Friday 26 April 2019

HSE were 'warned about tragic Erin weeks before suicide'

Erin Gallagher's mother Lorraine and sister Shannon
Erin Gallagher's mother Lorraine and sister Shannon
Erin Gallagher: death has stunned community

Barry Duggan

HEALTH service officials were warned that tragic Erin Gallagher was at risk of suicide eight weeks before she took her own life.

The startling revelation was made by a member of the board of management at Erin's school.

Donegal mayor Frank McBrearty, who sits on the board of Finn Valley College, said a concerned parent went to social services after learning from his own daughter of allegations that Erin (13) was being bullied and was contemplating suicide.

It is unclear what intervention the HSE made when told of fears for the safety of the bullied teen.

The disclosure will prompt calls for an independent inquiry into the teen's death.

Mr McBrearty told the Irish Independent that nothing was done after the parent raised the matter with social services.

The HSE were not prepared to comment on the allegations.

Mr McBrearty said a full investigation into all allegations needs to be conducted.

"There are serious allegations being made that this was reported to the authorities eight weeks ago.

"That needs to be investigated and why was there no action taken," he said.

"From representations made to me. . . the allegation that Erin was threatening to commit suicide was reported to social services by a parent.

"Their (the parent who reported the matter) allegations are that nothing was done about it and Erin subsequently committed suicide," Mr McBrearty added.

"That is what these parents are telling me.

"As a public representative, I have a duty. I have a parent making this allegation to me. He reported it to the social services about the girl, as he was concerned.

"I feel I have to speak now. It is allegation and counter allegation -- you can only cross bridges when you come to them."

The Labour councillor said his efforts to have a school board of management meeting since Erin's death had been unsuccessful.

"I asked the principal (Frank Dooley) to call a school board of management meeting but he declined.

"He said he had consulted with the chairman of the board of management (Patrick McGowan).

"I said I am not happy with it. I speak for myself and there should have been an emergency meeting of the board of management.

"I feel the full board of management should have met and discussed what needed to be discussed and seek the advice of the HSE as to the way forward," Mr McBrearty said.

"It is a very distressful time. People need to step back and calm down and count to ten."

He said he did not know when the next board of management meeting was taking place.

Principal of Finn Valley College Frank Dooley was contacted for comment but did not respond.

A total of 525 people committed suicide across the country last year.

"We should be ensuring that no other teenager commits suicide and the Government should be looking at bringing in legislation that protects everyone and promotes positive mental health."

Young Erin died 11 days ago.

Last night, the HSE said: "We are offering every support and service to all concerned in this unfortunate tragedy but we cannot possibly comment on an individual case".

Irish Independent

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