Statistics released to Aontú show that nearly 200 children who were either known to child protection services or in state care have died over the past decade, 38 died by suicide.
Aontú’s spokesperson on Children and Equality, Luke Silke told Mcompass media that he’s shocked by the numbers.
“We have a serious problem in this country when 38 children under the care of the State are dying by suicide and more of these children are also dying by homicide and drug overdoses relative to the population in general,”he said.
Luke Silke who has been selected as Aontú representative for the Tuam area in next year’s Council elections received data under an FOI.
“Obviously when we have a situation where a child is murdered while known to Child Protection Services there are very serious questions for the State to answer,” Mr. Silke said.
Luke continued: “I have read all of the reports produced by the National Review Panel who monitor the deaths of children in care. Their reports make for absolutely harrowing reading.”
He went on to explain: “These are very detailed reports. All of the children have been ascribed a pseudonyms. The reports identify a number of flaws in the current system of child protection which is leading to many of the children falling through the cracks.”
A report on the death of a child given the pseudonym’Hugh’ published on 7th Feb 2018 gives a clue to obvious failures by the state to protect vulnerable children.
“Hugh was referred to CAMHS but was left without treatment for ADHD due to a CAMHS policy whereby young people who are using drugs are not eligible for service. Hugh died aged sixteen from a drug overdose,” Luke explained.
He went on to give details of a report produced in June 2019 on the death by suicide of Niamh, aged fifteen who was also deemed ineligible for CAMHS.
“ A shocking report published July 2020 on the death of 14 year old Ava who reported alleged sexual abuse against a family member resulted in her allegation not being investigated. Ava is another child who fell between the cracks and was not spoken to. Her body was discovered a few days after she was declared missing”, Mr Silke said.
“These are absolutely appalling statistics. It is a tragedy when any child dies but I find the number of children in the care of the state dying by suicide truly shocking,” he said.
Luke went on to say that as we approach the anniversary of the Easter Rising, we fall short of the ideals enshrined in The Proclamation that set out to cherish all the children of the nation equally.
“I wonder how Luke who was born around the same time as myself felt while he transitioned from foster care into a homeless hostel, then into a prison and was eventually found dead whilst still a teenager, two weeks after he deferred his stint in rehab. Luke was a victim of assault. His parents died when he was young and the State was charged with his care. Did he feel cherished?” Luke asks.
Aontú is calling for a review of the individual reports produced by the National Review Panel to date with the aim of getting an overview of deaths of children under the care of Tusla.
“It’s clear, on foot of these reports, that serious action needs to be taken”, concluded Mr Silke.