Review urged into child deaths
A health watchdog has called for tougher guidelines and tighter timeframes for reporting the deaths of children in state care.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) said steps urgently needed to be taken to regain public trust after delays and lack of transparency in previous reviews.
The recommendations follow the leaking of a report into the death of 18-year-old Tracey Fay amid opposition claims it had been suppressed.
Miss Fay, who was found dead in a coal bunker used by drug addicts in inner city Dublin in 2002, was one of 24 youngsters to die in state care over the last decade.
Launching the HIQA recommendations, the group's chief inspector of social services Dr Marion Witton said the Health Service Executive (HSE) currently had no national standard or systematic way of reviewing serious incidents, including the deaths of children in care.
"We are recommending that national reviews should be undertaken by a panel of experts whose aim will be to investigate circumstances of death or other serious incidents to establish facts and share findings with families and the public," she added.
"Recently reported tragedies illustrate the urgency in ensuring this guidance is implemented with immediate effect."
The authority recommends all deaths of young people who are in care or known to the child protection system should be reported within 48 hours.
Any reports on the deaths, or at least a summary of their findings, should be published within 30 days of completion.
The HIQA says the HSE should also work on internal policies to report and review all child protection and welfare incidents at local and national levels.