HSE abuse apology claim challenged in new documents

Sunday 24 January 2016 19.29
The HSE told the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee it had apologised to the young woman and her mother but this has been denied by her birth mother and a social worker
The HSE told the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee it had apologised to the young woman and her mother but this has been denied by her birth mother and a social worker

New documents have emerged that challenge the Health Service Executive's claim that it apologised to a vulnerable adult who was allowed to remain for over 13 years in a foster home, which was subject to serious allegations of severe physical and sexual abuse.

The HSE told the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee it had apologised to the young woman and her mother but this has been denied by her birth mother and a social worker.

The social worker, acting as whistleblower in the case, has raised claims of how the woman - who was placed in the foster home aged 11 in 1989 and left there until 2009 - was allegedly subject to severe abuse, including being abused with implements and trained or coerced to enact certain sexual acts upon a verbal command.

Despite a warning about the foster home emerging from a former resident in 1995, the young woman was left at the home until 2009.

The HSE insisted it had apologised for care failings, in line with the proposal in a report into the claims. 

The HSE said the apology was made when an official met the whistleblower and the alleged victim and later in a telephone call with her birth mother in December.

The HSE wrote to the PAC to claim it had apologised in line with the report, carried out by management consultant Conal Devine. 

Despite this, the mother and whistleblower said no apology was made at either the meeting with the alleged victim or in the phonecall to the young woman's mother.  

RTÉ's This Week has learned that another person with close knowledge of the meeting that took place has now made an official written protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 to TD John Deasy, in which they also insist that no apology was made. 

Speaking to RTÉ, Mr Deasy said the details of the alleged abuse were some of the most horrific and disturbing he had ever encountered. 

Meanwhile, another document of interest has also emerged.

Following the phone conversation, the alleged victim's birth mother asked a HSE official to provide her with a written note of what had been discussed in the conversation, as an aid to her memory of what was covered.

That note, prepared by the HSE official after the phone discussion, which has been seen by RTÉ's This Week, makes no reference to the offer of any apology.

In total, more than 40 people were placed in the foster home - which is located in the South East - from 1983 until the health authorities decided in 1995 to stop placing any further children or vulnerable adults with the foster family after an abuse complaint emerged.

It has yet to be explained why the young girl was allowed to remain at the home despite the alleged abuse.

Since the case was highlighted by the whistleblower over six years ago, the HSE has commissioned several reports into alleged abuse perpetrated at the foster home against some of those placed there, the vast majority of whom are non-verbal and severely intellectually disabled. 

To date only a small section of the Devine Report, and none of the other reports, have been released.

The Director of Public Prosecution Claire Loftus said she would not bring charges in the case, following an initial Garda investigation into the abuse claims. 

Another Department of Health review is under way, while a new complaint of criminal negligence has been made to gardaí. 

The whistleblower has said that a Commission of Inquiry was the only means of establishing how and why the young woman was left in the home for 13 years after the abuse claim was made.