The Commission of Investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at a foster home in the south-east of Ireland has been criticised by families of service users.
The commission will be tasked with investigating allegations of sexual abuse at a south-eastern foster home but will only focus on the single case of ‘Grace’: a girl who was kept in the home for almost 13 years.
The families of up to 46 other users of the home has criticised the commission for not focusing on those other cases.
The sister of a woman that spent time in the same foster home as ‘Grace’ has called for the commission of investigation to be widened to include all other cases.
Speaking on RTÉ News at One, ‘Bridget’, whose sister has the mental age of a 2/3-year-old, said that the fear that her sister could have suffered abuse is on her mind every day.
She has joined solicitor Sinéad Carroll, who said that the terms of reference for the commission should have been broadened to investigate the 46 other cases.
The investigation will look at the treatment of ‘Grace’ within the foster home and the role of the HSE in the issue.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who has Minister for Health when ‘Grace’ was kept in the home despite an order to take her out in 1996, may also be questioned about his involvement as part of the commission.
During leaders’ questions today, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin asked for the terms to cover all of the people that were in care at the foster home in question.
In response, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that the commission would deal with the hardship inflicted on ‘Grace’ in the first instance, while admitting that one of the terms of reference, which deals with the report into services in the area by Conor Dignam SC, would have the capacity to go beyond the ‘Grace’ case.
The commission will be held by senior counsel Marjorie Farrelly, who was praised by Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath.
“She has a strong track record, a strong legal background, very competent and very decisive. I’m very optimistic she will get to the truth of these issues” Minister McGrath said.
Minister McGrath, Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Michéal Martin were unavailable to comment on the issue.