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For some elderly victims of abuse in nursing homes it is already too late -Ó Caoláin

1 June, 2005


Sinn Féin Dáil leader, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney to "immediately appoint additional inspectors throughout the country and ensure that all nursing homes are inspected within the next two months." Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "For some elderly victims of abuse in nursing homes it is already too late. They have died of neglect like the victims highlighted in Lea's Cross."

Speaking during Private Members Business time in the Dáil this evening he said, "We have long needed an independent inspectorate of nursing homes. The Government is telling us we will have legislation to establish such an inspectorate later this year. For some elderly victims of abuse in nursing homes it is already too late. They have died of neglect like the victims highlighted in Lea's Cross.

"Vulnerable elderly people should not have to wait for the independent inspectorate to be established. The Minister for Health and Children should immediately appoint additional inspectors throughout the country and ensure that all nursing homes are inspected within the next two months. The many people who run nursing homes responsibly and with the highest standards of care would welcome such a move as the scandal of Lea's Cross casts a shadow over them all.

"We can be certain, however, that Lea's Cross is by no means an isolated case. The great fear is that it is being replicated in other nursing homes.

"It is abhorrent that millions of euros of public money have been poured into the pockets of the unscrupulous owners of this institution. The Health Service Executive effectively abandoned people to the regime for which the owners of Lea's Cross, the Ahernes, have been responsible. What sanction under the law will they now face? Will public money still be paid into their coffers?

"Sinn Féin tabled an amendment to the Disability Bill which would have stipulated that all disability-specific services in the State be managed in accordance with Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - articles dealing with the right to privacy and family life and the prohibition on torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Government disallowed the amendment on the basis that to do so would impose a charge on the state.

"I hope this scandal also makes the Government pay more heed to the Human Rights Commission established under the Good Friday Agreement. The Commission highlighted the lack of protection for old people in nursing h omes in its report of November 2002 -- but the government did nothing." ENDS

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