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04 Dec 2021

Investigations continue into allegations of sexual assault in care home

Investigations continue into allegations of sexual assault in care home

Investigations continue into allegations of sexual assault in care home

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has said it has been asked by An Garda Síochána to delay the publication of a report while investigations continue into allegations of sexual abuse by a former resident at a care home.

The allegations, which were first reported in The Irish Times, are of sexual assault on a number of residents at St Joseph's hospital in Stranorlar, Co. Donegal, carried out by a former resident, who was given the pseudonym Brandon in the report and who is now deceased.

In a statement today, the HSE said that every day the health service and its staff seek to provide safe, high-quality health and social care with compassion to many thousands of people in communities around the country.

Commenting on the unpublished report, the HSE said that what happened in this case fell far short of the high standards it seeks to achieve and "we apologise sincerely for that".

The allegations were raised by a whistleblower in the HSE in 2016 when he contacted local Independent TD Thomas Pringle.

Deputy Pringle said he was horrified at the allegations and contacted HSE management.

Mr. Pringle has called for the publication of the report and said the HSE must "come clean" in relation to what they did in relation to the case.

"We have to make sure that this doesn't happen again, and I think that is what the families are very concerned about, we have to be confident this won't happen in any other facility and learnings will be made from this case and worked on and that everyone will be safe".

In a statement issued this afternoon, The HSE said that it received the initial report in August 2020 by which time 'Brandon' was no longer residing in the service.

On receipt of the report, it said, it:

"acted immediately to seek assurance as to the current safety of the residents within the relevant service. The HSE's primary concern is the current safety of residents.

"Regular safeguarding meetings take place within the service, which has undergone significant reforms in advancing the Community Healthcare Organisation's strategy for disability services generally, and specifically in response to the report findings, building on ongoing improvements in that specific service prior to the report."

In a statement the Health Information and Quality Authority said:

"Since March 2016, HIQA has inspected this service on 25 occasions and has ensured that all safeguarding concerns were referred to the appropriate agency."

The Gardaí have asked the HSE  to delay the publication at this point while their investigations continue and a statement from the Gardaí said that a file has been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions "in respect of this matter".

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