Monday 27 March 2017

Family of murdered teenager accuse HSE

Family of murdered teenager Daniel McAnaspie. (L-R) sister Catrina and Aunts Edel and Sabrinal. Photo: PA
Family of murdered teenager Daniel McAnaspie. (L-R) sister Catrina and Aunts Edel and Sabrinal. Photo: PA

The family of murdered teenager Daniel McAnaspie today accused health chiefs of ignoring his cries for help.

The 17-year-old, whose body was found in a field last week three months after going missing, was in and out of state care and had left school early.



"If they had have listened maybe Daniel would have been still here today," his sister Catriona said.



The family said he wanted to learn to read and write and the Health Service Executive (HSE) would not cover costs. They said they tried to get him into new schools after their parents died - his mother in 1996 and father in 2000 - but no one would enrol him.



The family said Daniel faced a daily battle to find a bed for the night, turning up at garda stations at 8pm asking for help and often ending up being assaulted and picked on in hostels housing grown men.



The McAnaspies also claimed health chiefs branded him a street child.



The family accused the HSE of failing to listen to their concerns over Daniel's welfare after their parents died leaving six youngsters behind.



"He wanted a proper home," Catriona said. "They just threw him around from place to place. He wanted help but they wouldn't give him as much as he needed."



Daniel's badly decomposed remains were found by a farmer last Thursday near Rathfeigh, Co Meath. He had been stabbed to death and the body dumped in a drain. His body was not formally identified until Saturday.



Alan Shatter, Fine Gael spokesman on children, accused the HSE of an inadequate response to the case.



"There must be an independent investigation into the care, or lack of it, afforded to this tragic young teenager by the HSE," Mr Shatter said.



"It is no longer satisfactory that we are told by the HSE of its intention to 'learn lessons' arising out of what went wrong."



In a statement the HSE offered its deepest sympathies to Daniel's family and friends.



Officials will investigate the teenager's death under the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) guidelines reviewing serious incidents and deaths of children in care.



"The review will fully investigate the care provided to Daniel and the circumstances leading up to his disappearance and death," the HSE said.



"Any concerns raised by family members, and other relevant parties, will be addressed in the course of the review, which will be conducted under an independent chairperson."



A panel of childcare experts has to be appointed before investigators can be selected to investigate Daniel's death. The panel is expected to be compiled shortly.



"The unexpected death of a child under any circumstances is a tragedy," the HSE said. "The tragic death of a child while in care is an extremely serious matter and requires careful and detailed consideration to ensure that the lessons of this tragic event can be learned."



Labour's Roisin Shortall said questions need answering by health and education chiefs.



"How did this boy, who was under HSE care, end up in a situation where he had to present himself at a local garda station every evening in the hope that there would be a bed for him there for the night?" she asked.



"Why was he forced to stay in emergency hostels that proved to be entirely inappropriate for a child in his circumstances?



"Why, given the fact that he had absconded on numerous occasions previously, was he able to come and go with such ease from the HSE-run residential home in the days before his death?"



Twenty-four children have died in HSE care in the last 10 years.

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