'Grace' inquiry terms unaminously passed by Dáil

The PAC had earlier considered asking TDs to delay establishing the inquiry

'Grace' inquiry terms unaminously passed by Dáil

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Updated 15:30

The revised terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation into the ‘Grace’ case have been passed unanimously by the Dáil.

The terms were passed despite a last-minute plea from the Public Accounts Committee to delay setting up the inquiry, so it could hold its own hearings first.

The director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien came under fire earlier today over evidence he gave to the committee 13 months ago, amid claims he misled TDs.

The committee had requested time to investigate before the terms were finalised – however Mr O’Brien has now agreed to provide the committee with a written statement on his evidence within seven days.

Junior minister with special responsibility for disabilities, Finian McGrath said the commission now needs to get up and running immediately:

“It is time now to move beyond being shocked and appalled at the uncovering of one scandal after another and realise that we have the power to effect change to protect the vulnerable so that health professionals, the public and all of the citizens have confidence that vulnerable people in care will be protected appropriately and better,” he said.

The terms of reference for the inquiry will now be passed by the Seanad later, formally establishing the Commission of Investigation.

Earlier, Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald led calls for a response from Mr O'Brien.

"You didn't give us the full story around interaction with the Gardaí," she claimed. "I think that you have to answer those questions today."

The Health Minister had said it would be "inexcusable" for the Dáil to rise this week without establishing the investigation.

Simon Harris said it is essential that the investigation begins as soon as possible.

"I really do hope that they pass both houses of the Oireachtas today," he said.

"It would be inexcusable for [them] to adjourn for a week without actually setting up this commission.

"So I would urge political parties on all sides of the House to make sure that before the Oireachtas rises this evening that this commission is set up."

Revised terms

Cabinet agreed to the revised terms over the phone yesterday evening, and the new terms will go before the Seanad later today. 

The new plans will see the Commission of Investigation split in two.

One part will deal with the alleged abuse of the woman known as 'Grace' at her foster home in Waterford.

The second part, meanwhile, will examine the cases of dozens of other children who passed through the home.

Concerns had been raised by opposition parties that the original parameters of the planned inquiry were too narrow.

It had been argued it would be unfair not to examine the cases of all those who were potentially involved. 

Disability Minister Finian McGrath has insisted that no victim of abuse will be ignored. 

The investigation is expected to get underway promptly once the terms have been agreed by TDs and senators.