“Devastating” sexual abuse of intellectually disabled residents continued for 13 years in HSE centre 

A Donegal TD has called on the government to publish a report into “to sustained sexual abuse” of at least 18 intellectually disabled residents of a Health Service Executive-run centre in Co Donegal over a period of 13 years. 

Independent Thomas Pringle had also previously made the call for the abuse to be uncovered in the Dáil. More than 108 incidents of “devastating” abuse were carried out against mainly non-verbal adults by another resident, including molestation and rape.

Highland Radio reports that the HSE says Gardai have asked them not to publish the draft investigation – known as the ‘Brandon report’ because of the pseudonym given to the alleged perpetrator. Brandon is understood to have died last year.

The Irish Times, which has seen the draft copy of the report from the HSE’s National Independent Review Panel (NIRP), says the review found that ‘the Ard Gréine Court complex and Sean O’Hare Unit in St Joseph’s hospital in Stranorlar had been run with a “disregard for residents’ rights”, allowing sexual abuse to continue “unabated”’.

The report was commissioned by the HSE national office in December 2018, and examined the centre’s management of Brandon over a 13 year period from 2003 until he was moved to a nursing home in 2016.

Management’s strategy seemed to be to move the perpetrator from ward to ward, which “simply gave him access to a new cohort of clients whom he proceeded to assault until he was moved on again”, according to the report.

In fact, the records examined suggested “sexualised behaviour had been ongoing … prior to 2003”, with an incident in 1997 being recorded after “Brandon was found with his hands on a resident’s genitals”.

Local HSE management did not report the assaults or alleged rapes to gardaí until last year, despite being urged to by the HSE’s local safeguarding team, the Irish Times reported.

A whistleblower eventually contacted Mr Pringle on the matter. The unpublished report from NIRP has not been provided to the families of the victims.

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