Referendum too late for neglected children
Referendum too late for neglected children

A referendum on children’s rights is to go ahead in the 26 Counties following a devastating report that found that the deaths of almost two hundred children who were in state care could have been prevented.

After years of delay, the referendum will now go ahead in the wake of a new outcry over the 26-County state’s attitude to children.

The publication on Wednesday of a report on the deaths of 196 children in contact with the State’s child-protection services between 2000 and 2010 said the deaths could have been prevented.

Of the 196 deaths, some 112 died of non-natural causes such as drug overdoses, suicides, road incidents or unlawful killings.

“Ultimately and tragically the efforts to protect these children failed,” the report said.

Among the key findings are that:

* The majority of children in the review did not receive an adequate child protection service;

* Some files were in “complete disarray”, with little or no records as to what happened when to some young people, especially those in aftercare;

* Files on some children were closed, even though they were aware of ongoing drug and alcohol abuse within their families, which placed young people at risk

Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the highly critical report as a “litany of shame”.

Announcing the referendum on Thursday, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore pointed out that these deaths occurred in “the period of our great prosperity”. The children died as “so much partying was going on, so much clapping on the back was going on about how wonderful we were as a country, how great we were doing, how much more money we had”.

Sinn Fein party president and Louth TD Gerry Adams said the conclusions of the report were “a serious indictment” of the child protection systems in the State.

He pointed to the case of a 15-year-old girl where, following a catalogue of systemic failures and negligence, not even her death was properly recorded by the state’s welfare services.

“It’s almost as if with this latter omission the system was erasing her life - treating it and her as of no consequence, as if she never existed,” he said.

“Page after page of the report records the lives and deaths of one young person after another and with each conclusion it is clear that the child protection system failed time after time.

“The state abdicated its duty in respect of these young people and failed to provide the adequate child protection support that should be expected of a modern state in the 21st century.”

Mr Adams called on the coalition government to rapidly speed up its overhaul of child-protection structures in the State.

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© 2012 Irish Republican News