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My son Devlin could have been saved if he received the proper support

THE suicide of teen Devlin Kavanagh in State care shows how the voice of the child was "stifled" by bureaucracy, children's rights campaigners have said.

Devlin Kavanagh (14), from Castledermot, Co Kildare, hanged himself just a few miles from his home on December 5, 2006.

The teen died after he was told he would have to return to the Ballydowd secure care home in west Dublin.

He previously told his mother that he would kill himself if this happened.

Devlin's mother Orla Kavanagh Doyle and her husband Mark believe that if their son had received the correct support, he may have been saved.

Mrs Kavanagh Doyle said that before to 2005 they lived “a normal family life” before her son displayed symptoms of depression and self harming.

But on the night of his death she became increasingly concerned for her son's safety when he took her car and disappeared.

However, although she claims she called the garda station at 11pm and 1am, officers said that they had no recollection of the call.

Devlin was discovered the following day hanging from a tree less than one quarter of a kilometre from where his mother originally thought he was.

In November 2006, the HSE became aware of the sexual abuse of Devlin but it took five weeks before his parents were informed. In December of that year Mrs Kavanagh sought a care order from the High Court so her troubled son could be taken into the care.

Devlin’s father Mark Doyle told the Herald the family had waited four years for the report. “He wasn’t a statistic, he was a child,” he said.


Children's Rights Alliance CEO, Jillian van Turnhout, said all sections of the State organisations have a responsibility in the case.

“We need to learn why the warning bells were not heard,” she said. The voice of the child was not at the forefront of the investigations.

“We need to ensure an interconnectivity of the different arms of the State – in education, justice, social services.”

The tragic case of Devlin is one of 10 damning investigations by the Ombudsman for Children.