The Commission of Investigation into matters related to the care and protection of 'Grace' in a foster home in the southeast will complete an interim report within six months.

RTÉ Investigates has seen a copy of the terms of reference for the inquiry which will look only at the case of 'Grace' and her experience in the foster home, which is referred to as Family X.

'Grace' was left in a foster home for almost 20 years despite a succession of sexual abuse allegations

The Commission will decide on completion of its work if any further investigations are required in the public interest.

The Commission will complete an interim report within six months and a final report within 12 months.

It will also look at how Family X came to be used as foster parents by the South Eastern Health Board for 'Grace' and whether this arrangement was subject to any statutory checks which were applicable at that time, along with any general duty of care responsibilities which should reasonably have been applied.

It will also investigate whether the Minister for Health, Minister of State for Children at the Department of Health or any official of the Department of Health took action in 1996 when concerns were raised.

The decision not to make an application for wardship in respect of Grace in the period 1996-2009 also falls under the terms of reference.

It will also probe whether there was any deliberate suppression or attempted suppression of information during the period July 2009 to March 2016.

The birth mother of 'Grace' has said that she was repeatedly led to believe her daughter was living with a loving foster family.

She was speaking to RTÉ Investigates in an exclusive interview, broadcast on Claire Byrne Live tonight.

In her first interview, Grace's mother speaks about placing her baby into care as a young, single mother in the late 1970s. 

Read: Full transcript of interview with Grace's mother

Over the intervening years she says she stayed in contact with the then South Eastern Health Board (and later the Health Service Executive) and regularly checked on Grace's welfare.

She maintains she was repeatedly led to believe that 'Grace' was living with a loving foster family, in a caring foster home and she therefore had no cause for concern until she first learned of the sexual abuse allegations in 2009.

At that point she immediately demanded the removal of 'Grace' from the foster home.

In the interview, 'Grace's' mother called on Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath to ensure the upcoming commission of investigation, for which the terms of reference will be brought before Cabinet this week, provides the answers to the many questions she has been asking for the past number of years.

'Grace's' mother has rejected a written apology from the HSE saying she feels it was half hearted and that no one from the HSE has ever spoken with her personally to ask how she is coping or to apologise for what happened to her daughter over a prolonged period of time.

She described the events of the past number of years as "a living hell" that she is still enduring.

RTÉ Investigates has also spoken to Sinead Carroll, a solicitor who was contacted by a significant number of former service users or their families.

Ms Carroll said the families were devastated to learn of allegations surrounding the foster home, adding that the publication last week of the Conal Devine and Resilience Ireland reports has still left them with many unanswered questions.

Ms Carroll has called for a change in legislation, saying that the only way to ensure there is truth in the future is to introduce a law to make it compulsory to adequately investigate complaints and notify affected family members in an open and timely manner.

She argues that failure to do so by staff should become a criminal offence.

In a statement to RTÉ Investigates, the HSE said it wishes again to offer "an unreserved and heartfelt apology to all those who experienced serious failings in the care provided" at the foster home and for "the significant failures of the former South Eastern Health Board and the HSE to make the care situation safe".

The HSE says this apology was, and is, offered with the greatest of sincerity.

In relation to allegations that Grace's mother was never told about the sexual abuse allegations when they first arose, the HSE said "this is a matter best dealt with by the commission of inquiry".

The RTÉ Investigates report will be broadcast on Claire Byrne Live, RTÉ One tonight at 10.35pm.

HSE reiterates apology

In a statement this afternoon, the HSE said it has heard extracts from the interview, saying: "It is genuinely to our regret but we understand why Grace's mother cannot accept our apology now. 

"We do hope that in the future she may be in a position to do so."  

The executive said that he most important thing is "that any questions she has which remain to be answered, that she will get those answers from the objective viewpoint of the upcoming commission of inquiry".

It added: "Once again the HSE can only apologise to Grace and her mother and say that we genuinely are very sorry for all of the failings in her care and in our system." 

Varadkar shocked birth mother not informed

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has said he finds it hard to comprehend why 'Grace's' birth mother was not informed of allegations that existed. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Varadkar said the most important thing is the fact that 'Grace' is now being well cared for. 

He said the Conal Devine Report of 2012 and Resilience Ireland Report of 2015 leave a lot of unanswered questions, which is why it is important that the Government goes ahead with the commission of investigation.

Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee Chairman has said he wants the commission of investigation into the 'Grace' case to "have teeth" and that legal change would have to come about, regardless of the outcome of the commission.

Seán Fleming said the terms of reference for the commission of investigation must deal specifically with the current position of staff who were all involved in the case and, more importantly, the issue of appointment and promotion of personnel in Tusla and the HSE.

Also speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Fleming said that if medical personnel are negligent, they get sued and the same must apply to non-medical personnel.

Mr Fleming said that unless a point is reached whereby people who are guilty of negligence in performance of their duties are held accountable, cases such as 'Grace's' will continue.

"To me, there's a fundamental systemic weakness in relation to the recruitment and promotion system within all public service organisations - if this is the case. We can have people who are guilty of possible reckless endangerment and who can get promoted, if it's not recorded on their file," said Mr Fleming.

Mr Fleming said he does not accept what the HSE has said in relation to the 'Grace' case.

He said he accepts the HSE's Head of Disability Operations Social Care statement that there was not a conspiracy but Mr Fleming believes there was gross negligence by the HSE in relation to the handling of the case.