Irish Republican News · December 13, 2014
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Undercover TV team documents abuses


Ireland’s health service bosses have been accused of criminal negligence following a damning television documentary on the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities at a facility in County Mayo.

The RTE investigation focuses on three women -- Ivy McGinty, Mary Garvan and Mary Maloney -- housed at ‘Aras Attracta’, a care home in the town of Swinford.

It shows them being slapped, kicked, pulled around, prodded, hit with keys, and otherwise roughly treated. Medical experts who contribute to the report describe the mental anguish inflicted on the residents as “entirely unacceptable” and “atrocious”.

Staff appear to take pleasure in exerting power over Ivy, in a scene that shows her being denied use of the bathroom.

Mary Garvan -- who has arthritis -- is told to stay in her chair, and threatened with the cold of “the porch” if she doesn’t stay quiet. The 65-year-old is unable to speak, and her cries are ignored by staff before being greeted with further threats and reprimands.

Fellow resident, 75-year-old Mary Maloney, is left to sit in one spot for six hours before being told she’s lucky to have a roof over her head. Over the entire three weeks of filming, Mary was allowed outside of the unit on just one occasion.

Elsewhere, footage is shown of a staff-member force-feeding a resident by pinning her arm down behind a chair. At one stage the member of staff puts her hands over the individual’s face.

Another scene shows a male senior staff member walk into the unit and sit on top of one of the patients for several seconds. The patient is then told to apologise to the staff member by another worker.

There are several instances of staff members slapping and kicking residents and pushing them into chairs and to the ground.

Experts in nursing, special needs care and law who spoke to producers have described their shock at what they’ve seen.

“I’ve seen footage like this before, but to be frank, it’s from Eastern Europe, it’s not from Ireland and I feel ashamed about this,” said Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway.

Professor Barr, from the University of Ulster says it’s “abusive care,” noting... “’s a term that can’t be used lightly.”

Family members of the women featured in the documentary tell how they felt betrayed by the system.

A sister of one resident says she’s “shocked beyond words” by the revelations -- and that staff members seemed to be treating the women like objects, rather than human beings.

Nine staff-members have been suspended from work as the HSE and Gardai investigate the claims detailed in the documentary. Most are qualified nurses and care assistants.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the allegations of abuse were “intolerable” and that he had been briefed on the situation by Ministers Leo Varadkar and Kathleen Lynch.

Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghin O Caolain raised the issue in parliament. He said it was unacceptable that “our voiceless in care” depend on whistleblowers and the RTE Primetime documentary makers for the truth of their living conditions to be uncovered.

O Caolain noted that Aras Attracta was not an isolated case. Inspectors said they had found evidence of abuses at another residential disability centre in Meath.

It has been reported that up to 160 complaints made in the past year about care facilities for people with disabilities have not been fully investigated.

Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams TD has called for a fully independent inquiry. He said the revelations had “deeply disturbed and upset citizens, not least the relatives of those involved and those with family members and loved ones in care.”

Mr Adams pointed to claims by the HSE that recommendations following a previous inspection at Aras Attracta had been implemented.

“If that was the case, the systems in place in care homes have been a catastrophic failure,” he said.

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