Not possible to publish full Brandon report, AG advises Minister

Report outlines sexual abuse of intellectually disabled residents at disability centre in Donegal

Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, said she had hoped to be in a position to publish the full report but this did not seem possible.

Anne Rabbitte, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, said she had hoped to be in a position to publish the full report but this did not seem possible.

 

The Attorney General has advised that it is not possible to publish the full report carried out into sustained sexual abuse of intellectually disabled residents at a HSE-run disability centre in Co Donegal.

An executive summary of the report, which was published before Christmas found 108 incidents of sexual abuse were perpetrated against at least 18 intellectually disabled residents, many of them non-verbal, by another resident given the pseudonym Brandon, between 2003 and 2016 at the Sean O’Hare unit at the Ard Gréine Court complex in Stranorlar, Co Donegal.

The report, from the National Independent Review Panel completed in August 2020, found the “devastating” abuse had been perpetrated by “Brandon” with the “full knowledge of staff and management” and continued for about 13 years.

The Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte had sought the advice of the Attorney General Paul Gallagher as to whether the full 67-page report could be published.

Ms Rabbitte said she had hoped to be in a position to publish the full report but that “based on the Attorney General’s advice, it would seem this is not possible”.

It is understood the advice was that its publication would be contrary to the undertakings given to family members who participated in the review process and that it could potentially prejudice any disciplinary actions that might be taken.

“I entirely respect his opinion and view on this matter. I have learned a lot about the NIRP [National Independent Review Panel] process used by the HSE to investigate these devastating failures and, from my perspective, it will inform any such matters into the future should they arise,” Ms Rabbitte said in a statement on Monday.

“I am continuing to engage with the HSE, both locally and nationally, and the Department of Health on the issues raised in the report and its recommendations.

“I will be monitoring the HSE’s ongoing work closely to ensure they address the failures highlighted in the report and that they progress the actions they committed to, thus ensuring families and service users can have confidence in their services, and that such failures do not reoccur.”

Last month HSE chief executive Paul Reid apologised to residents and families affected by the abuse.

“This has been one of the most repulsive reports that I have read and indeed one of the most gruesome reports I have had to read in my career,” he said.

He said the HSE did not wish to publish the Brandon report in full because it did not want to “compromise” the scoping review into whether disciplinary action was required.

“The process is really important for us; we want to protect it for the future,” he said.

Speaking in the Dáil in December, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he was “horrified” by the report and felt “disbelief that something like this could happen and continue to happen for a period of time”.

“It’s important that lessons are learned and changes are made and the focus must be on ensuring the findings and recommendations of the report are implemented,” he said.

“Agencies assure the minister that there is no ongoing risk to service users and the national governance and accountability structure that oversees implementation of recommendations arising from the report are now in place.”