Child Deaths Report: We Now Have the Truth

Published date: 
20 Jun 2012

Wednesday 20 June 2012: For Immediate Release

Child Deaths Report: We Now Have the Truth

Statement by Tanya Ward, Chief Executive

“The Children’s Rights Alliance is deeply shocked by today’s explosive Report by the Independent Review Group on Child Deaths, which documents the deaths of nearly 200 children.  Many of these deaths could have been prevented but for major systems failures and human error.  This Report exposes the truth and clearly demonstrates that, as a society, we should have cared more, done more for these vulnerable children and young people.  

“It is shameful that these children died at the height of the Celtic Tiger years, while in contact with an under-funded and under-resourced child protection system.  While the majority of us busied ourselves with designer handbags and climbing the property ladder, children died in the care of the HSE.  Children were abandoned to endure years of neglect, homelessness and drug abuse.  Their tragic and short lives hold up a mirror to the way we value and treat vulnerable children.  

“The Report provides us with an honest and raw depiction of the devastating failure to care for our most vulnerable children and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs should be commended for publishing it with no redactions.  Taking heed of this unvarnished Report will be key to the successful reconfiguration of our child protection system in the form of the new Child and Family Support Agency.  We need a child protection system that ensures that the best interests of the child are always of paramount concern.

“The Alliance calls on Government to implement the Report’s findings swiftly, particularly the need for a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution.  We need a Constitution that will protect the rights of children and support them to grow up in a stable family home.  Worryingly, the Report directly implicates the Constitution as blocking social work efforts to protect children.  A children’s rights referendum is crucial if we are to ensure that every single child gets a fighting chance at a happy life.  Children died because nobody cared enough.  We need to take collective responsibility and make a stand.

“The Alliance congratulates Geoffrey Shannon, Child Law expert, and Norah Gibbons, Director of Advocacy with Barnardos, for their sterling work in producing this valuable Report.”

For further information, please contact:
Carys Thomas, Communications Director
Tel: (01) 662 9400
Mobile: 087 7702845

Notes to Editor:
1.    The Independent Review Group on Child Deaths (ICDRG) was set up by the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD, in March 2010.

2.    The Report of the ICDRG published today (20 June 2012) was chaired by child law expert Geoffrey Shannon and Norah Gibbons, Director of Advocacy at Barnardos.  The report examines the deaths of 196 children in care, known to child protection services between January 2000 and April 2010.  Of these, 112 died from non-natural causes, including unlawful killing, suicide and drug related illness, while 84 died of natural causes.  Of 36 children who died in the direct care of the HSE, 17 were due to non-natural causes.

**It is important to respect a child’s right to privacy, the right to a good name and protection of their identity.  These rights are protected under the Irish Constitution and in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ireland ratified in 1992.**