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Minister: Tracey Fay was failed by the State

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Minister: Tracey Fay was failed by the State

Post  Guest on Thu 4 Mar - 23:01

Thursday, 4 March 2010 20:11
Minister for Children Barry Andrews has told the Dáil that the State undoubtedly failed Tracey Fay, the teenage girl who died in HSE care.

During a Dáil debate on the issue of unpublished reports on children who died in State care, Mr Andrews denied that there were reports on children who have died in care 'gathering dust' in his office.

Mr Andrews said they may be confused with case-review files, which are not intended for publication.

confirmed that ten reports were being prepared into deaths of children in care, but reviews were not being carried out in others.

He said the total number of deaths of childen in care over the last ten years is 23.

In the case of eight enquiries are ongoing, no further action is deemed necessary in six cases, and a further nine are regarded as accidental or natural causes.

Minister Andrews said two reports were nearing completion.

He said there was no intention to cover up, that he had no agenda to protect any reputation.

Fine Gael deputy Alan Shatter stressed that accountability was needed if reform was to be implemented.

He said the State has been paying 'lip-service' to child protection.

Labour's Joan Burton expressed concern about what she said was a culture of secrecy in the HSE.

She said this was preventing a dialogue about what was the best thing to do about troubled children whose families had failed them.

HSE Director of Integrated Services Laverne McGuinness confirmed at the Public Accounts Committee this morning that 20 children had died in care in the past decade.

She said two reports were almost ready for publication, two more were going through legal process and another ten are being compiled.

Under questioning from Fianna Fáil's Sean Fleming, Ms McGuinness said no reports had been published since the HSE itself was established in 2005. Deputy Fleming described it as very concerning.

Ms McGuinness said reports in future would be carried out using guidelines set out by the Health Information and Quality Authority. She said this would lead to a speedier publication of reports' recommendations.

Professor Brendan Drumm said there was a danger that if every report was published it would lead to limited investigations because they would end up being bogged down in legal difficulties.

PAC Chairman Bernard Allen said it was inexcusable that some reports took eight to ten years to compile.

Fay case

A HSE report into the death of 18-year-old Tracey Fay strongly criticised the State's provision of care accommodation, a lack of a systematic care plan and a failure to provide addiction services.

Fine Gael Children Spokesman Alan Shatter yesterday published the report, saying it was in the public interest.

The mother of two died in January 2002 and is referred to in report only by her initials, TF.

During her first six months in care, Tracey Fay was accommodated in nine different places, spending 255 nights in 20 different B&Bs. She was found dead after taking heroin and ecstasy.

The HSE has now written to Mr Shatter calling on him to withdraw the report from the public record, saying it breached the constitutional rights of Ms Fay's family, especially her children.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland, HSE Assistant National Director for Children and Families Phil Garland said there were 20 other similar reports awaiting publication, but due process had to be considered.

Mr Shatter has described the HSE's request as 'fundamentally bizarre' and 'quite extraordinary'.

Speaking this morning, he said it was vital to lift what he called the 'veil of secrecy' on the State's child protection services.

Last night, Ms Fay's uncle Damien Fay said he had no objection to the release of the report.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews yesterday criticised Mr Shatter for publishing the report, describing it as 'an ambush' designed to cause embarrassment for the Government.

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No report for tragic teen's family

Post  Guest on Thu 4 Mar - 23:13

We were never contacted, says Tracey's uncle

By Edel Kennedy

Thursday March 04 2010

THE family of a tragic teenager who died from a drugs overdose while in the care of the health service has yet to receive a report into the "dysfunctional and chaotic" care which resulted in her death.

The family hit out at it being used as a "political football" and said they would have liked the opportunity to read the report and respond to it before it was leaked.

Tracey Fay was just 14 when she was taken into the care of the then Eastern Health Board and she quickly became involved with drug addicts.

She died on the streets of Dublin in January 2002 after a drugs overdose.

Fine Gael yesterday released a report by the Health Service Executive (HSE) into the mishandling of her care, and accused the Government of trying to suppress the findings. However, Minister for Children Barry Andrews accused the Opposition of an "ambush" and said the release of the report was "carefully choreographed to cause embarrassment".

Tracey's uncle, Damien Fay, last night said the family had never been consulted about its release. He said the first he knew about it was when he was contacted by the media.

"We were never contacted and I think it's very important that we would have been," he told the Irish Independent.

"We would have hoped that the HSE would have contacted the family so that we could have some input as to the outcome of the report. We've been excommunicated from everything that has been going on."

He said the family was well aware of the failures in the system when Tracey was in care and he would hope that much in the system had changed since 2002. "She would go to the health board clinic and hang around there. And then she would be sent to the garda station and made to hang around there looking for a bed. We know what kind of people are in garda stations and she was a vulnerable young girl.

"It was a recipe for disaster," he added. He said he has been speaking to Tracey's mother who is upset about the leaking of the report. Mr Andrews insisted there was "no suppression of the report".


He said the HSE had been in touch with Tracey's mother Doreen and had hoped to consult with her on it, but could not because she was ill.

Fine Gael Deputy Alan Shatter questioned how a parent who failed their child could be entitled to veto a report into their actions, or inactions. "The sad reality is that where a child is the victim of parental abuse or neglect and also a victim of a failed childcare system, the parent is unlikely to favour publication of a report which details in full the tragic background circumstances," he said.

Tracey's grandfather, Wille Fay, said he had no idea it was about to come into the public domain. He said it was a "very bad time" when Tracey died and said the family wanted to put it all behind them.

"It was a very bad time and we just want to forget about it."

The HSE said all 47 recommendations in the report "have been or are being" implemented. Last night Barnardos called on the Government to put the Children First national guidelines on a statutory footing.

- Edel Kennedy

Irish Independent

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