The Fine Gael children spokesperson Charlie Flanagan has called for a re-investigation into allegations of abuse at two facilities in Galway overseen by the Brothers of Charity.
Deputy Flanagan secured cross-party support for a new investigation at a recent Oireachtas Health committee meeting. The call has also been fully backed by the Galway Rape Crisis Centre, a local counselling and support service, and Inclusion Ireland, a national voluntary organisation promoting the rights of people with intellectual disability.
Speaking after the committee meeting this week, Deputy Flanagan said that members discussed the State-commissioned McCoy and Hynes reports into the issue. The McCoy report began in 1999 but was not made public until December 2007. It found that 11 brothers and seven other staff members were alleged to have abused 21 intellectually disabled children in residential care during the period 1965 to 1998. The Hynes Report was set up to look into the eight year delay in publishing the McCoy report and was released in April 2009.
“The Hynes Report and events at the Residential Institutions Redress Board have shown that the McCoy Report totally failed to fully investigate allegations of child abuse at the facilities in question for myriad reasons. The McCoy report interviewed 21 persons who made allegations of abuse. Some 133 persons suffering with disabilities who were associated with the institutions in question had at that time sought and obtained compensation from the Residential Institutions Redress Board.
“We now know that the inquiry that led to the McCoy Report was inadequate, the terms of reference were defective, the methodology was inappropriate, there was a lack of back-up staff, and an insufficient number of individuals who alleged abuse were given an opportunity to be interviewed or consulted. It is high time we had a real, proper, and appropriate inquiry into the abuse of young people suffering from disability in institutions run by the Brothers of Charity.
“These people are entitled to a full inquiry. The victims of abuse in these institutions are particularly vulnerable due to their intellectual disability. It is up to the members of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to vindicate their interests. I have called on my colleagues to support my call for a full investigation into the abuse allegations, one that will repeat none of the mistakes of the previous report. I am pleased that they supported my proposition and I expect Minister Harney to act promptly on this serious matter,” said Deputy Flanagan.
Inclusion Ireland has said that there must not be a “repeat of the shortfalls of the McCoy Report” which was dogged by serious inadequencies and delays.
“The main issue which must be examined by all political parties is that despite many reports into abuse suffered by people with an intellectual disability, including the McCoy Report and the Ryan Report, there remain no independent inspection and statutory standards in disability services. Inclusion Ireland hope that standards already developed by the Health and Information Quality Authority (HIQA ) will be put on a statutory footing and inspections will be introduced for disability services without delay. Standards and regulation will not prevent abuse but at least a system will be in place to protect vulnerable people. This is essential and is the core issue in any debate on this subject,” said a spokesperson.
Executive director of the Galway Rape Crisis Centre Aoibheann McCann said in a statement: “The GRCC would fully support a re-investigation of Brothers of Charity abuse investigations. We would welcome a process where all of the survivors who came forward were consulted appropriately by fully independent experts.”