HSE 'left' boy (16) in internet cafe overnight
Published 12/03/2010 | 05:00
THE HSE has been accused of leaving a teenager seeking a psychiatric assessment in an internet cafe because of a lack of accommodation.
Officials have been urged to explain claims that the 16-year old boy, who had become drug dependent, was left in the cafe on Tuesday night.
And they have been urged to explain why they failed to follow-up the psychiatric assessment of another 17-year-old with severe mental health difficulties.
The fresh revelations come amid a storm of controversy about the lack of protection of children in the care of the State.
Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter highlighted the incidents in a bid to urge Children's Minister Barry Andrews to take a more dramatic and direct involvement in child-care issues.
Speaking during a Dail debate on the constitutional amendment on the rights of children, he said the 16-year-old had been going through the care system over two years.
"He is awaiting psychiatric assessment, but he has fallen into an age band where he is not considered either a child or an adult because he is between 16 and 18," Mr Shatter told the Dail.
"He is no longer in the education system, he is becoming drug dependent and he is falling into a street life where he will be exposed to drug running and prostitution.
"On Tuesday this week, this young man was left in an internet cafe all night by the HSE because there was no suitable location to accommodate him.
"This young man could potentially be another Tracey Fay." Mr Shatter said the 17-year old had been known in the emergency care services for four weeks. "A psychiatric assessment took place in St James's Hospital a couple of weeks ago but there has been no follow-up," he said.
"Essentially, this young man is floating between two social work areas, Naas and Tralee, neither of which will take responsibility for dealing with him.
"He comes from a background in which, it is believed, he has been seriously sexually abused and this young man is exhibiting behaviour that has been a cause of difficulty to social work personnel. Essentially, he is cut loose."
Last night, the HSE said it had been informed Mr Andrew's office was contacting Mr Shatter to get information from him in relation to the two teenagers. "The HSE will immediately follow up on both cases once it has this information," a spokeswoman said. "The HSE is prohibited by law from commenting on any individual child in care. However, the HSE said this evening that it takes the matters raised in the Houses of the Oireachtas today very seriously and that it is satisfied that appropriate care arrangements are in place for these children."
The row erupted as fears mount for the safety of a 17-year old Chinese girl who vanished from HSE accommodation. The girl -- who arrived alone in Ireland in January -- was placed by the HSE in special "out of home" accommodation in Cork pending the processing of her asylum status.
Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney said it could be the case that she has been exploited and lured into the sex industry.