THE mother of Anthony Ward (8) was arrested last night and questioned about the boy's death as it emerged that health authorities were first told of concerns about his care almost three years ago.
A post-mortem yesterday confirmed that Anthony died from suffocation in the bedroom of his Charleville home in Cork in the early hours of Monday morning.
The boy's mother, Diane Ward (43), was arrested and taken to Mallow garda station for questioning.
She had been discharged from Cork University Hospital (CUH) -- where she had been treated for distress since Monday -- and was then immediately arrested by detectives who were waiting for her in the lobby.
Ms Ward was arrested under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act (1984) and can be held for up to 24 hours.
It emerged yesterday that the eight-year-old died several hours before paramedics and gardai were called to the bungalow off Harrison's Avenue that he shared with his mother.
The Ward family last night told the Irish Independent of their devastation at the tragedy.
Anthony's uncle Tommy, flanked by his other uncles, Billy and Mark Ward, said they would not comment on the HSE review until after Anthony's funeral. But he confirmed that his family were aware of the ongoing HSE involvement with the child.
He said: "I am Anthony's uncle -- I want to say that there was HSE involvement and child-protection services involvement with Anthony before he died.
"As regards that, we have no further comment to make. We would ask that the press now please give us privacy until we put Anthony into the ground."
He added: "We now need to look after our sister, Diane. We will release a statement when this is all over."
This newspaper has learned that the HSE, which has now launched a full review of its involvement with Anthony, had its last contact in relation to the boy's care just last month.
At least six reports were received by the HSE about Anthony since 2009, including reports from education officials and gardai.
The HSE said: "The HSE South has been notified of the tragic death of a child in Charleville, Co Cork. This matter is currently under investigation by the gardai.
"As with all serious incidents such as this, the HSE has committed to a comprehensive review of the involvement of HSE services with the family."
Anthony's father, Mark Ryan, who lives about 3km from his wife's home, was yesterday making funeral arrangements for his son. A Ryan family spokesperson said they were too upset to comment further.
"We are all over the papers today -- we have nothing to say. We are all too upset," she said.
Yesterday, Anthony's principal at Newtownshandrum national school, Carmel Walmsley, paid an emotional tribute to the fun-loving youngster.
"We are deeply saddened at the death of Anthony . . . our sympathy and thoughts are with Anthony's family and friends. He was a lovely boy, kind and friendly, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him."
Anthony's grandmother, Sheila Ward, was contacted by Diane at 9.30am on Monday to say she desperately needed help.
Mrs Ward and her sons went to check on Diane and Anthony. The child was discovered unresponsive in the bedroom and the emergency services were notified.
He was pronounced dead before he could be transferred to CUH.