Inquiry after disabled adult allegedly ‘left behind’ on bus

Stewarts Care investigates reported incidents involving people in its care

The incident is alleged to have occurred last summer, and it is understood Stewarts Care believes it has identified the young man who is reported to have been affected. Photograph: Eric Luke

One of the country’s largest disability service providers is investigating a report that a vulnerable adult with intellectual disabilities was left behind on a public bus, while in the organisation’s care.

Stewarts Care, which runs residential homes and day centres for people with intellectual disabilities, confirmed it was "seeking to establish the facts" of the alleged incident.

The incident is alleged to have occurred last summer, and it is understood the organisation believes it has identified the young man who is reported to have been affected.

The allegations came to light after the mother of another service user informed the group her son came home from an outing, and told her another individual had been “left behind on the bus”.


In a letter to Stewarts on April 18th this year, the woman claimed she had reported the matter to a senior staff member, at the time in 2018.

Following the letter, Stewarts reported the alleged incident to the Health Service Executive (HSE) safeguarding office, stating it had received a report "alleging that a staff member left a male service user behind on a public bus".

No record

The organisation told the HSE it could find no record of the incident “being recorded or escalated as a safeguarding incident” from the time, as would be required practice.

Stewarts has been making preliminary inquiries into the matter, and it is understood it may initiate a formal independent review in the coming weeks.

“Since the disclosure was made, we have been seeking to establish the facts, to then establish a more formal process,” a spokesman for Stewarts said. “We have been proactive, we are progressing it, but it is a work in progress.”

In its report to the HSE, the organisation said “a review of all systems in place for transporting service users is currently under way”. The report was released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information acts.

Grass verge

Separately, in early April this year, a 19-year-old teenager with Down syndrome was found unaccompanied on a grass verge of the M50 motorway, after he was left behind following a Stewarts’ swimming pool trip.

Staff had taken a group on a trip to a swimming pool run by the organisation in Palmerstown, southwest Dublin. The absence of the young man was only discovered when the group returned to a Stewarts' day centre after the outing.

On foot of the controversy, the organisation launched an independent barrister-led investigation, a draft report of which is understood to be completed. Two staff members were suspended, pending the findings of the investigation.

Respondents in the inquiry will receive the draft report, to challenge any points before the final version is signed off on. However, the mother of the young man involved has not been furnished with a copy of the draft report.

In a statement at the time, Stewarts said the incident was both “distressing and unacceptable”, and it “apologised unreservedly to the young man and his family”.

Stewarts provides residential care to more than 260 people overall, with about 150 at its campus in west Dublin. It also provides day care for about 500 people, and respite services.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times