Child death report still unpublished after six months
THE Health Service Executive (HSE) has refused to set a date for the release of a new inquiry into the death of a child who was being monitored by the State, despite receiving the finished report more than six months ago.
An external review was called after Cara Murphy -- not her real name -- died on January 21, 2007. The health body was told the 14-year-old urgently needed help three years before she died.
Despite receiving the completed inquiry on March 18 last, the HSE says it is still awaiting legal advice over how to make it public knowledge, and has yet to set a date to do this.
The Irish Independent has sought clarification on a number of occasions in the past on when it might be released.
In its first statement of reply, the HSE said: "A final decision will be made in respect of the publication arrangements in the coming weeks."
But on each further occasion the HSE said a legal review of the document's contents was ongoing with no end in sight.
Cara fell ill after inhaling solvents from a deodorant can while travelling in a car with friends, and was pronounced dead at a filling station just a few miles from her home.
The 14-year-old had come to the attention of gardai and social services, and at a case conference in 2004 it was decided to put her into care.
But the HSE failed to act on this assessment and in 2005 a spokesman for the agency said it had "settled" the teenager's situation and chose not to take her out of the family home.
Last night, Fine Gael spokesman on children Charlie Flanagan demanded that Health Minister Mary Harney intervene to ensure publication as quickly as possible.
"The HSE is an unaccountable authority that must change and the Minister for Health should demand that its report be placed on her desk," Mr Flanagan said.
"The fact that the report has been completed for six months is an inordinate length of time to have to wait. It should be published speedily and comprehensively."
An estimated 188 children who were in state care or were known to the child protection service have died since 2000, figures released in June showed.
Two further reports into the deaths of Tracey Fay (18) in 2002 and David Foley (17) in 2005 were released earlier this year, highlighting a shocking litany of HSE failings. Both died of drugs overdoses while in the State's care.