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Independent report on deaths of children in state care to be published 'shortly'

Minister for Children says that the AG’s advice has been sought over the report before its publication.

Image: AP Photo/Michael Probst/PA

THE MINISTER FOR CHILDREN has said that she has received an independent report into the deaths of children in state care in Ireland.

Responding to parliamentary questions, Frances Fitzgerald confirmed that her department had received the final report of the Independent Review Group on Child Deaths in March and has referred that report to the Attorney General’s office for advice ahead of its publication.

The AG’s advice has been sought “bearing in mind the very sensitive matters being addressed in the report, and the importance of preserving the anonymity of the deceased,” she said.

Fitzgerald said she hopes to publish the report “shortly” on the basis of the AG’s advice.

The Independent Review Group on Child Deaths was set up by the then-Minister for Children Barry Andrews in March 2010 to examine existing information on the deaths of children in state care and provide detailed information on the circumstances surrounding deaths not attributed to natural causes.

The group is also expected to report on and examine the involvement of state services with the children’s families, and make recommendations on strengthening child protection responses.

Norah Gibbons, director of advocacy with Barnardos, and Geoffrey Shannon, the government’s Special Rapporteur for Child Protection.

Shannon submitted his fifth report as the Special Rapporteur to the Department of Children in early February, though it has not yet been published by the government.

Responding to a question from John McGuinness TD last week, Fitzgerald said she has not yet published that report because a consultation process is underway with her “relevant ministerial colleagues” concerning the issues raised in the report.

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