The family of one of the residents of Áras Attracta in Co Mayo have called for the people on suspension from the residential centre following an RTÉ Investigations Unit report to be given "due process".

The statement from the family of Mary Garvin, which was read out on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme, also called for a garda investigation to proceed.

In the statement the family say they want the staff on suspension to be given the opportunity to tell their side of the story and explain their actions.

The statement, issued in light of reports of death threats being made against suspended staff members, said under no circumstances do the family wish to see "mob rule" adding that they "abhor violence in every shape and form."

The family also thanked the carers, nurses and other professionals who worked "quietly, caringly and professionally in Áras Attracta."

The statement concluded by saying the family's "thoughts and prayers are with all of these people now on suspension. They have families and relatives too, and we all know they are all suffering."

"We want them treated humanely and with respect and the Garvin family believe in forgiveness as a way forward."

Elsewhere, the Ombudsman has said his office could have carried out an investigation if the Health Information and Quality Authority had passed on complaints about the Áras Attracta residential centre.

RTÉ Investigations Unit: Inside Bungalow 3

It follows an RTÉ investigations Unit report, which showed residents of a unit at the centre in Swinford, Co Mayo being force-fed, slapped, kicked, physically restrained and shouted at

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Peter Tyndall said HIQA did not have the power to investigate complaints.

He said it should therefore be bringing the over 400 complaints it has received this year about nursing homes to his attention.

He said his office had been in touch with HIQA about this issue and was awaiting a response.

"It's not happening in practice because they have had those complaints and they are not reaching us.

"This strikes me that two things are happening, one is that when people first complain to the HSE, which is where they normally complain - the HSE should have been telling them about their right to come to the Ombudsman, I think that can't be happening because they are not getting to us.

"Similarly if they then complain to HIQA rather than the HSE, HIQA should be contacting us and I don't know why this hasn't happened," Mr Tyndall said.

He said his office can examine complaints about the Health Service Executive and all HSE-run centres, including nursing homes.

In a statement this morning, HIQA said there is no Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of the Ombudsman and the authority and that an early draft MOU document has been with the Ombudsman since 21 October "awaiting his reply".

It said the draft document "does not set out any requirement for HIQA to share or pass on complaints it receives with the Office of the Ombudsman".

The authority also said complaints it receives are passed onto the relevant service provider and it is on the basis of non-resolution of a complaint that it would be refereed to the Ombudsman by the provider.

HIQA also said it is not correct that there are 400 unanswered complaints.

The authority said that in 2013 it received 355 pieces of information in relation to nursing homes; this included unverified information as well as complaints.

"All of these were assessed carefully and all relevant information was acted on."

The Ombudsman said he was troubled by that fact that people were being told there was nowhere to complain when his office had the power to investigate these complaints.

He said that his office could investigate a complaint from members of the public but not from members of staff:

"I have full power to investigate any complaints that come to us, powers to obtain documents to interview staff, to take any evidence that's available. Powers to access premises, all of the powers necessary in order to conduct full investigations".

Tánaiste Joan Burton said the Government has an open mind as to what would be the next appropriate step when gardaí conclude their inquiries into the alleged abuse at the care home.

Ms Burton said she was very upset and shocked by what she saw in the RTÉ Investigations Unit report on how residents were treated at the home.

She said lack of staff is given as the reason for problems in many services but this did not seem to be the case here.

Ms Burton said it was the lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of individuals which was particularly shocking.

She said RTÉ performed a very important journalistic service in broadcasting the report.