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Ballydowd closure raises huge concern over child services – Ó Caoláin

5 November, 2009 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “extremely worrying” the announcement that the special care detention unit at Ballydowd in west Dublin is being closed by the HSE due to its unsuitability for children. He said the overall HIQA report, which included the recommendation of closure, was “a severe indictment”.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“The closure of the Ballydowd facility raises huge concern over child services in this State. This centre is only nine years in existence and cost €13 million to put in place yet now we find that it has to be closed because of its unsuitability for the troubled children who have been held there.

“It is extremely worrying that the HSE has presided over a facility in which, as HIQA has stated, there were ‘not enough staff to run the unit consistently and safely’. How could this have been allowed to go on?

“The HIQA National Children in Care Inspection Report, which included the report on Ballydowd, is a severe indictment of State failure to protect children. It highlights ‘serious deficits in standards aimed at safeguarding vulnerable children, including lapses in vetting procedures for staff and foster carers working with children’. These are issues that I and others have repeatedly raised in Questions to the Minister for Health & Children and at the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children.

“The Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney who has ultimate responsibility, and the Minister for Children Barry Andrews who has direct responsibility, must explain in detail how children have been let down yet again in this way by the State. They must act with urgency to bring the care of vulnerable children up to standard or else we will have more Ryan Reports in years to come, only this time they will cover the present era.” ENDS

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