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Thursday 23 November 2017

Family demands 'full investigation' into loss of beloved Ciara (17)

Family meant everything to Ciara, say her parents
Family meant everything to Ciara, say her parents

The family of a Kilkenny teenager who died at a Kodaline concert last year has called for an investigation into her death.

Ciara Lawlor (17) collapsed while watching her favourite band play at Marlay Park on July 8, 2016.

As the anniversary of her death approaches, her heartbroken mother, Eimear, said she still finds it "very hard to say her name".

"You get overwhelmed by the sadness. I can't believe she's gone. I can still see her," she said. "No one should have to bury a child.

"It wasn't real. It just couldn't happen. She was full of life."

Describing the past year, the distraught mother said: "People would stop to tell me stories and I would be screaming in my head. I have to take sleeping tablets because you'd never get to sleep."

Ciara had been receiving treatment for a heart condition at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.

She had been waiting 10 weeks for a test concerning her underlying condition, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) - now the family wants to know if there was anything that could have been done to save Ciara.

"I wrote to Our Lady's Children's Hospital in January this year. I wanted to ask for a full investigation," Eimear told RTE's Today With Sean O'Rourke show.

Apology

She never heard back, but the hospital has now written to the family and confirmed it has commissioned an external expert to lead an investigation.

It has also started an internal review and has circulated draft terms of reference to the family.

In a statement issued to the Sean O'Rourke show, the hospital apologised to the family.

"Our Lady's Children's Hospital has apologised unreservedly to the Lawlor family for the delay in responding to their letter," said the statement.

"This was due to the fact the letter was drafted but unfortunately had not been sent to the family.

"Our Lady's Children's Hospital can confirm that Ciara did attend the hospital as an outpatient."

The hospital also confirmed that there will be an external and internal review into Ciara's care. The internal review is expected to be completed in four months.

Thousands of mourners attended the popular schoolgirl's funeral at St John's Church, Kilkenny, last year.

Those in attendance included Dublin rockers Kodaline, who flew in from the UK to pay their respects to Ciara.

Many wept as the Skerries-based band joined Ciara's classmates from the Loreto School choir in a heart-wrenching rendition of the band's song, High Hopes.

Speaking to the Herald after her death, Ciara's parents told how "family meant everything to Ciara".

"[She] was a beautiful, vivacious 17-year-old girl," they said.

"She was full of life, loved music and, despite a pre-existing medical condition, was active in the local athletics club."

Ciara, who was a qualified lifeguard, was due to sit her Leaving Cert exams.

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