South East foster care failings highlighted as reports published by HSE

South East foster care failings highlighted as reports published by HSE


The government is going ahead with a Commission of Investigation into the handling of the so-called "Grace case".

Junior minister Finian McGrath says he'll ask for cabinet approval next week, despite calls from disabilities groups to put the money towards other resources.

The Commission will also examine any role played by Michael Noonan during his time as Minister for Health, when he was lobbied by the foster family who did not want Grace removed.


Earlier today, the Taoiseach apologized to 'Grace'.

Enda Kenny's described as "shocking" two reports published today on failures at the facility in the South East.

The HSE is to begin disciplinary hearings against a number of staff who allowed a disabled woman to be left in an abusive foster home.

The proceedings will now get underway following the release of two reports commissioned by the HSE into the so-called "Grace case".


The girl, with serious intellectual disabilities, was allowed to remain with the foster family for 20 years despite repeated opportunities to remove her.

However the former head of the Public Accounts Committee, which brought the case to light, has doubts anyone will be held responsible.

Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness says the HSE has already proven itself more of a hindrance than a help in holding people responsible.

Failures in the foster care system have been highlighted at an HSE briefing in Kilkenny this morning.


Two reports have been published into the  alleged abuse case in a foster home in the South East.

One deals with the case of an intellectually disabled woman known as 'Grace' who reportedly suffered sexually and physically in the home.

While another examines dozens of other children who lived there until 2013.

They're titled,  ‘Inquiry into Protected Disclosures, SU1’ (Conal Devine & Associates) and 'Disability Foster Care Report, HSE South East’ (Resilience Ireland).

Findings in the reports confirm the foster family was approved for respite foster care in 1985  with no evidence to suggest they were approved to be full time foster carers.

Additional to SU1, 4 Service Users identified in the Devine Report:

  • Person had a short placement with foster family in the 1980's, years later said they were locked in a cupboard in the home
  • Not clear that another person was in foster care with the foster family
    • issues raised that might be related to problems in foster care
  • Another person had 2 long stays with the foster family in the 1990's - concerns about care during the placement
  • Person had 3 short placements in the foster home in the 1990's - abuse was reported to the Gardai in 1996

At the briefing in Kilkenny this morning the HSE reiterated its apology to the woman at the centre of the case with serious intellectual disabilities, who was abused at a South East foster home for 20 years.

The woman, known as 'Grace' was left in the care of the foster home in 1989 and left there until 2009, despite several concerns about abusive conditions.

The HSE's head of disability services, Dr Cathal Morgan, says the agency missed several chances to remove Grace from the home:

"In 2004 there was a potential to move to residential care, this was not followed through.

In 2008 the birth mother of the service user in question did provide consent for a move to residential care which was not followed through.

In March 2009 following a review with the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, most regrettably, the service user was brought back to the original foster home."

Fiann Fail TD in Kilkenny John McGuinness says the reports only outline what we already knew:

"The reports really only outline the HSE's position.

It confirms what was not there at that time and currently what they are trying to do to improve their procedures.

What's really at stake here is the issues brought forward by the whistleblowers and the fact that the HSE spent most of its time during those years, providing roadblocks for the whistleblowers in their effort to get justice for those that were affected in this foster home and were being sexually abused.

The question then is why no-one cried stop, the question today is why nobody is accepting responsibility."

Deputy McGuinness is frustrated that no-one has yet been held accountable:

"In my opinion they're dodging responsibility and they know, through retirement and so on, that after the garda report in the course of the commission of inquiry, that an awful lot of people who were central to this will not be able to come forward, but it still remains central to everything that we discuss here that the whistleblowers came to the public accounts committee.

That their account of everything is accurate and true and it is those issues that need to be addressed.

We need to see some discipline, some people disciplined within the HSE, who failed in their duty of care to the people who are part of this report today"