Sunday 15 December 2019

Let down all her life, this poor girl never stood a chance

Edel Kennedy

SHE never stood a chance. From the age of just eight months the social services were involved in Tracey Fay's life. Before she was four there were five instances in which formal investigations should have been carried out into "non-accidental injuries" which she sustained.

But this never happened.

On moving to Wiltshire, England, at the age of eight she was put on the child protection list there because she had been physically assaulted by her mother's partner.

The family returned to Ireland because of domestic violence. Just two weeks shy of her 15th birthday, Tracey was placed in care because her relationship with her mother had "broken down completely".

She stayed in a "very significant range of accommodation". The report found this included "B&B accommodation on 31 occasions in at least 20 different residences; in three separate apartments; in two emergency accommodation settings; in support lodgings with five different families; in two mother-and-baby homes; with her grandparents and uncles; in two services designed to focus on multi-issue children and in two dedicated services specifically and solely for her". On other nights she slept in a maternity hospital, the A&E unit in the Mater Hospital, a tent, and also rough on the streets.

In her first six months of care she was moved around nine times and her behaviour seriously deteriorated. "In that time Tracey became seriously encultured in the out-of-home scene becoming highly sexualised, becoming involved in prostitution, being pimped, using heavy drugs, drinking, fighting with residents, assaulting and being verbally abusive to staff," the report found. She became pregnant twice while in the care of the Eastern Health Board (now HSE) -- the boy and girl were taken into care after she was found to be unable to care for them. The health board also failed to carry out all the recommended psychiatric evaluations.

A number of individuals and centres were named the report as having provided good support for Tracey, including Parkview.

However, one centre which otherwise provided good support for Tracey was criticised for deciding it could no longer cope with her "highly sexualised and provocative behaviour". That same day she was ordered to leave and put into a B&B, exposing her to "possibly greater risks".

Her body was found on January 24, 2002, in a disused coal bunker off Granby Row, in Dublin's north inner city. She died alone. Just 10 months earlier she had gone to the High Court to seek suitable accommodation and care for herself. In a letter a year before her death, while living at Orchard View, Rathdown Road, in Dublin, she wrote: "I don't get on with certain staff (and) it is very hard for me having them sitting there telling me what to do."

Irish Independent

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