Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2001 The Irish Times
Contact:  11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Fax: + 353 1 671 9407
Author: Eithne Donnellan

Inspectors Urged To Close Child Centre

Inspectors investigating the running of a residential child care centre in 
Co Wicklow, from which a 15-year-old girl absconded and died of a heroin 
overdose, were urged three months ago to shut the unit, it has emerged.

The plea came from the parents of a Dublin child who spent several months 
in Newtown House, formerly Trudder House, between 1998 and 1999 and who had 
befriended Kim O'Donovan. Kim was missing from the home for nearly a month 
before she was found dead last August in a Dublin B & B. She died of a 
drugs overdose.

The parents, who do not wish their names to be published, were interviewed 
for up to five hours by the Social Services Inspectorate during its 
investigations into the running of the home. They have confirmed they urged 
the inspectorate, during the interview three months ago, to shut Newtown House.

However, as reported in The Irish Times on Friday, the home has since been 
closed by the East Coast Area Health Board while its role is being 
reviewed. No troubled children have been cared for at Newtown House since 

The East Coast Area Health Board said Newtown was no longer required for 
troubled children as a new 24-bed unit had opened at Ballydowd in Co 
Dublin. However, a spokesman said the role of the home was being reviewed. 
The inspectorate's report into the running of Newtown House was due to be 
published on Friday, but a spokeswoman confirmed yesterday it would be delayed.

The family interviewed in the course of the investigations had sought an 
inquiry into the running of Newtown House long before Kim death. They wrote 
to the then Minister of State for children, Mr Frank Fahey, in August 1999 
seeking an investigation and also asked his successor, Ms Mary Hanafin, to 
order an investigation. She acceded to their request just days before Kim 
was found dead.

The family had also voiced their concerns in the High Court about the 
running of the centre. They had been advised their son, a victim of sexual 
abuse, would receive appropriate treatment at the unit but they believed 
this was not happening.

They had also been led to believe that it was a secure unit, but at one 
stage their son absconded from Newtown House and was missing for some time.

A second inquiry will begin in the High Court next month.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens