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Cover-up claims as HSE fails to report on single child death in five years

THE HSE has not published a single report into the death of a child in State care in five years.

TDs were heavily critical after the HSE's director of integrated services Laverne McGuinness admitted no report has been published since the organisation was formed in 2005.

In addition, the Government said the circumstances in which five children died while in State care were not even reviewed.

The five were among 23 children who died while in, or shortly after leaving, the care of the authorities since 2000. No reports into any of the 23 deaths were published.

This revelation sparked claims of a cover-up during a debate in the Dail, with Labour's Joan Burton raising concerns about a "culture of secrecy".

The debate came about after Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter made public the unpublished report into the death of Tracey Fay (18) from an overdose while in "chaotic" state care in 2002.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews said nine of the 23 deaths were due to natural causes, as the children had pre-existing medical conditions. He said reviews were taking place in eight more cases, all of which occurred in 2006 or later.

In the remaining six cases, which happened before 2006, no further action was anticipated. Reviews of five of the deaths did not even take place.

A confidential report has been completed on the sixth.

The five deaths for which no review took place involved three overdoses, a suicide and a hit-and-run incident.

Mr Andrews said procedures had since changed and he agreed reviews should now take place in the five cases. Under new guidelines being prepared by the Health Information and Quality Authority, the HSE will have to publish reports into the death of any child in State care within two months.