A stand-off between gardaí and the HSE is continuing to delay publication of an investigation into prolonged sexual abuse of at least 18 intellectually disabled adults at a disability centre in Co Donegal.
The Brandon report, from the National Independent Review Panel (NIRP), finds there were 108 incidents of sexual abuse of residents, many of whom are non-verbal, at the HSE-run Ard Greíne Court centre in Stranorlar between 2003 and 2016. The abuse was perpetrated by another resident, now deceased, given the pseudonym “Brandon”.
Last month, the Director of Public Prosecutions directed there be no prosecution in the case.
The report says Garda members were told about the abuse on four occasions between June 2011 and April 2019, though a number of these do not appear to have been formal reports. One, says the report, was “undocumented”. It says “the NIRP found no evidence of any follow-up on this report”.
The Garda is challenging the accuracy of the 13-page executive summary of the report – provided to the force by the HSE – and is seeking sight of the full report.
In the past week, the NIRP provided “relevant extracts” from the report to gardaí, asking that they respond by close of business last Friday, a senior source told The Irish Times.
The HSE also continues to insist it will publish only the executive summary, despite the wishes of victims’ families that the full report be released, and amid calls by several Government Ministers that it be published in full.
In correspondence to the HSE’s head of disability services in Donegal, Edel Quinn, dated November 11th, Inspector Siobhán Mollahan of Letterkenny Garda station says: “At this point An Garda Síochána are reiterating our position as per mine of 5th… ie, that the executive summary is factually incorrect and needs to be reviewed prior to publication. An Garda Síochána are seeking a copy of the full NIRP/Brandon report.”
In correspondence dated November 12th, HSE national director of community operations Yvonne O’Neill tells Minister of State for disabilities Anne Rabbitte that she is contacting her “regarding the publication of the detailed executive summary of the Brandon report”. Ms Rabbitte has sought publication of the whole report.
Ms O’Neill says the concerns of the Garda about factual accuracy “has been referred to the NIRP for direct response by them”.
“You will note… [that Garda] has indicated the entitlement of the victim to a further 28 days to consider seeking a review of the position for no prosecution in this case [before the report can be published].”
She says: “The HSE remains committed to ensuring the findings and learning from the NIRP report are published to implement the necessary learning, to be transparent, and to maintain the confidence of those the HSE engages with and supports.”
Asked about the apparent impasse between the force and the HSE over access to the full report, a Garda spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána does not comment on ongoing correspondence with third parties.”
The HSE said: “We are waiting to hear from NIRP [whether the gardaí have responded] so we can progress plans to publish the detailed executive summary.”
The NIRP did not provide a comment.