How six children in HSE 'care' died in just three months
SIX children -- including murdered teenager Daniel McAnaspie -- have now died in the care of the State since the end of February.
The six have died since the Health Service Executive was ordered in March to notify a watchdog of all deaths after concerns grew that 23 children had died in care over the last decade.
The body of Daniel (17) was found in a ditch at Gilliamstown, Rathfeigh, near Duleek, Co Meath, last Thursday week.
Gardai believe he was stabbed to death in Blanchardstown on February 25 and that his killers bundled his body into a car, drove up the N2 from Blanchardstown towards Slane before carrying it from the roadside into a field, where it was left in a drain.
Four suspects were still being questioned by detectives today.
They were arrested in garda raids in the Blanchardstown area yesterday morning following an investigation involving 60 officers over the past three months.
Two men were being questioned about the murder, while the others were arrested for allegedly withholding information about the incident. The suspects are in their mid-20s and mid-30s.
Daniel had gone missing from HSE care about 20 times in the past, but had always turned up within a day.
His family and gardai became concerned for his safety when he failed to make contact on his mobile phone in February and they launched a search using resources similar to those of a murder inquiry.
Meanwhile, it emerged that Daniel was one of six children who have died while in the State's care in the past three months.
The circumstances of the remaining deaths are not know nand could include drug overdoses, suicide and natural causes. The figures are far in excess of previous estimates.
The HSE has to report the deaths of any children in its care to the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
It confirmed it has been notified of six deaths since the new rules came into effect on March 10.
"It doesn't mean that all of the deaths were violent," a HIQA spokesman said.
There are more than 5,000 children in the care of the State at present.
The HSE has refused to hand over the files on the 23 previously known deaths to a review group, citing legal advice.
"They have legal advice which says they can't hand over the known existing files," the Minister Barry Andrews, said.
His office is also now taking legal advice -- about the legal advice the HSE has been given -- but he said he was determined the work will be done by the end of the year.
Fergus Finlay, chief executive of children's charity Barnardos, branded suggestions that the number of deaths may be 10 times higher than first thought as shocking.
"In a world where real time communications takes nanoseconds, it makes absolutely no sense that there is no centralised database of incidents and accidents and unexplained deaths and it makes no sense that there hasn't been an independent registry of such things for years now," he said.