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Ó Caoláin condemns HSE role in child deaths

20 June, 2012 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking in advance of the publication of a report by the Independent Child Death Review Group later on today, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Children Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caolain called on the Government to speed up the planned overhaul of child protection structures in the State and ensure that those who are responsible for preventable deaths of children are held to account.

The Cavan Monaghan TD said:

“196 young people who were in contact with the State’s child protection services between 2000 and 2010 died over those years. 112 of these children died of non-natural causes such as suicide, drug overdoses, road traffic incidents or unlawful killings. The majority of these children did not receive adequate child protection services, and the Independent Child Death Review Group found many of the files in disarray with no files being kept on some.

“The HSE actually went so far as to close files on children even though they were aware of ongoing risk or drug abuse within their families. The practice by the HSE of simply washing their hands of hard cases and then children actually dying as a result is not good enough. Who in the HSE is now going to take responsibility for this?

“The report also details how the HSE failed to provide aftercare to young people and this was an ‘abdication of duty’. When members of the Dáil have repeatedly called for the introduction of a statutory right to aftercare for children leaving the care system we have been told that it is sufficient to allow the HSE to judge whether there is a ‘need for assistance’. Clearly this is far from sufficient and the right to aftercare must be put in place.

“This report demonstrates why a children’s rights referendum cannot happen soon enough. The child’s best interests must be the paramount concern in matters affecting them. It is not only a matter of urgency for children at this stage but a matter of life or death.”


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