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‘Grace’ commission delayed for another six months

A long-running State commission of inquiry into allegations of decades-long serious sexual and physical foster care abuse in the southeast has been delayed for another six months.

A Government statement published after the weekly cabinet meeting has confirmed that the Farrelly Commission of Inquiry into the ‘Grace’ foster abuse case will now not conclude its final report until at least September.

The inquiry was established on 2 February 2016 by then taoiseach Enda Kenny, who delayed announcing the general election by a day in order to give a Dáil commitment to begin the investigation and was due to complete its final report by May 2019.

It began its work in May 2017 chaired by senior counsel Marjorie Farrelly.

However, it has been the subject of repeated three-month and six-month extensions over the subsequent five years, with the Government confirming in early 2020 that the investigation had at that stage already cost €4.67m.

The inquiry relates to allegations involving a non-verbal woman with severe intellectual and physical disabilities who has been given the pseudonym ‘Grace’ and who was placed at the home at various times between 1989 and 2009.

During this period, Grace is alleged to have suffered significant physical and sexual abuse.

Concerns were first highlighted about the home as far back as 1992 and 1995.

However, for still unknown reasons which have led to health service and political responsibility questions, no action was taken at that time.

A number of internal HSE reports were commissioned to examine foster placing rules between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, which led to 46 other placements of vulnerable young people at the home ending.

However, it remains unclear why Grace was still at the home until 2009, when a whistleblower began to raise concerns.

In a post-cabinet statement on Tuesday, a Government spokesperson said: “Minister [for Children, Roderic] O Gorman, in consultation with Minister of State Anne Rabbitte, received Government approval to grant the Farrelly Commission an extension of the timeframe for submission of its final report by six months up to September 12, 2024.

“This extension will allow the commission the additional time necessary to bring its work to completion.

“The Farrelly commission is an independent statutory commission of investigation that was established to investigate the care and protection of a woman who is known by the pseudonym of “Grace”, as well as others in a former foster home in the southeast, which has been the subject of abuse allegations.”

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