Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the Minister for Health to expedite Adult Safeguarding legislation in the wake of the Ard Greíne abuse scandal.
Teachta Cullinane called for robust accountability mechanisms for the nursing home sector to ensure such abuse scandals do not continue to occur unreported and without proper protection for residents from sexual abuse and neglect.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The Ard Greíne abuse scandal highlights the desperate need for robust adult safeguarding legislation.
“The Department has not advanced this critical piece of legislation despite knowing its urgent necessity for some time.
“There needs to be accountability at an organisational level for management, and in this case the HSE, where cases of abuse and neglect are brushed under the carpet.
“We need accountability in the form of mandatory reporting to An Garda Síochána and a new safeguarding authority, which the Dáil called for before the summer recess.
“The Dáil has called for HIQA to be given interim authority on this matter and supplemented with the social workers needed to do this job until a safeguarding authority is in place.
“Safeguarding authorities, including existing safeguarding teams and social workers, need a legal right of entry and powers of investigation into cases of abuse and neglect when they arise.
“It is unacceptable that it took almost two decades for serial abuse in the ‘Brandon’ case to be notified to families or reported to authorities.
“At the end of 2020, there were 1800 alleged abuse cases which the HSE did not have staffing capacity to review.
“Similarly, there were 1600 safeguarding plans, some dating back to 2016, which had yet to be reviewed. This is leaving residents at risk of abuse and neglect.
“It was a gross abdication of responsibility to allow the abuse to be perpetrated time and again in what should have been a safe setting, despite the knowledge of management and staff of its occurrence.
“This shows a complete failure on the part of the HSE and the Department of Health to ensure protection and accountability in their own care settings.
“This further underlines the importance of robust adult safeguarding legislation, enhanced safeguarding teams, and a Chief Health and Social Care Professional in the Department of Health to provide a perspective which has been missing from policy for far too long.”