Government failing to provide details on child deaths in care, Dáil group told

June 22, 2009

THE GOVERNMENT is obsessed by a culture of secrecy and has failed to provide details of numerous reports into children who have died in the care system, an Oireachtas committee heard yesterday.

Fine Gael spokesman on children Alan Shatter said this failure to shine a light on the failings of the care system may ultimately result in an inquiry along the lines of the Ryan report in the future. We need to shine a light on where things go wrong. There must be some level of monitoring and accountability if we are ever to learn any lessons, Mr Shatter told the Oireachtas Committee on Health.

The lack of social workers is resulting in thousands of cases of children at risk not being dealt with. We have serious deficits and a broken childcare system.

He said there was also a major scandal of children who have been placed in the out of hours social work service in Dublin who have ended up being pimped into prostitution or dying on our streets.

In particular, the reports into the deaths of two young people in the care system 17-year-old David Foley and 18-year-old Tracey Fay have never been published.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews told the committee that he had received both reports and hoped to publish the recommendations of at least one of them shortly.

On staffing levels, he said that the moratorium on recruitment to the health sector did not affect social workers and hoped that a total of up to 270 workers could be recruited over the next year and a half.

The Minister accepted that a total of 6,500 child protection cases have not been allocated a social worker, as highlighted in The Irish Times last month.

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