Taoiseach expresses disgust and revulsion with allegations of foster home abuse

HSE chief admits apology for alleged abuse at foster home 'was lost in communication'

Enda Kenny, coalition, Independents, GE16, Fine Gael

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The Taoiseach has told the Dail that words cannot express the revulsion he feels about the allegations of abuse at a foster home in the south east.

This evening Enda Kenny's told the Dail that a structured investigation should be able to get at the truth, and he expressed his horror at the allegations:

Earlier today, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has apologised for leaving a woman with intellectual disabilities in the care of a foster home, at the centre of alleged sexual abuse, for up to 14 years.

Director-general Tony O'Brien told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that State agencies had missed several opportunities to remove the woman, known as 'Grace', from the home.

He has also apologised to the PAC after his agency misled it by claiming it had apologised to abuse victims, before actually doing so.

Mr O'Brien admitted an apology to be made to the woman "was lost in the communication to the staff members".

He says the HSE has now since apologised to the woman, named Grace, and her mother.

"Having personally reviewed the situation with those staff involved, I am satisfied that it was the intention to offer a full and frank apology to Grace", he said.

"I wish to confirm that the HSE has since apologised officially to Grace and her mother. This official apology has been made by the Chief Officer both in person and in writing, with the assistance of the professionals now caring for her".

Mr O'Brien also said he has written to 44 families, to let them know he is unhappy with the way the HSE mishandled the apology.

"I also apologised to them for the further distress that this mishandling may have caused them or their family member", he added.

But Fine Gael PAC member John Deasy wanted further clarity on the matter.

And Mr Deasy claimed the HSE's attitude is actually putting more people at risk.

Minister for Social Care Kathleen Lynch earlier said it was difficult to understand the continuous drip feeding of information from the HSE to government.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, she said: "You would imagine that when a minister and a government make inquiries that the full details would be given".

"You can understand that from time-to-time a letter is in a different file or anything. These things happen. But the continuous dripping of information is very difficult to understand," she suggested.

The proposal for a full Commission of Inquiry comes after the Public Accounts Committee heard claims that a foster care family in the south-east may have sexually abused more than 40 young people with intellectual disabilities.

The claims have been sent to the Department of the Taoiseach and the gardaí.

It is reported that the former South-Eastern Health Board became aware of the concerns in 1992, and all children were removed from their care in 1995.

However due to a clerical mistake, one person was left in their care until 2009.

The HSE has admitted that an apology was only offered to the woman at the centre of the abuse claims last week.