'Vulnerable people' let down, says Minister


The report was described last night by a Government Minister as "a further example of how some of the most vulnerable people in society were badly let down in the past".

Dr Jimmy Devins, Minister of State for Disability and Mental Health, continued, on behalf of the Government, "to reiterate the Taoiseach's formal apology to all those affected by abuse in institutions operated or funded by the State, including the Brothers of Charity Services, Galway".

He said the report contained "important lessons for the future, from which we must all learn".

He emphasised "the need for the protection of vulnerable service users and the promotion of a quality environment in which they live" and said he was "committed to ensuring that all residential facilities for people with a disability are independently monitored and inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA)".

As HIQA prepared for this role, he has asked the HSE to take all possible action to ensure the quality and safety of these services, he said.

Br Noel Corcoran, head of the Brothers of Charity Services in Ireland, welcomed the report. "I sincerely apologise to everyone who was abused while in our care. We have made this apology in the past, and I wish to make it again today in the hope that it will contribute to healing for those who were abused," he said.

"Vulnerable people were abused while in our care and this should not have happened. Many significant steps have already been taken, and we must now continue to ensure in every possible way that our procedures and practices will make it as difficult as is humanly possible for anyone to be abused in our services today."

Patrick McGinley, chief executive of the Brothers of Charity Services Galway, said the report gave "a clear picture of the awfulness of the abuse that occurred within our service. None of this should have happened".

"In contrast to the past, we now have much more comprehensive abuse-prevention systems in place in regard to care, training and reporting of abuse. Our current practices and procedures would make it very difficult for any abuse to occur today in our service." He appealed to people who may have been abused in their service to come forward.

Margaret Kennedy, a consultant and specialist in disability and abuse, who conducted training programmes for staff with the Brothers of Charity in Galway, called for a public inquiry into what took place at their institutions there.

The report failed to explain movement of Brothers from Lota (Cork), Thingwall Hall (Liverpool) and Galway, "as all the Brothers convicted moved from these places on 'rotation'," she said. It failed to name sex offenders who were dead or convicted, meaning victims could not be sure their abuser was investigated. It did not explain how, although 135 residents in Brothers of Charity institutions went to the redress board, just 21 were interviewed for the report.