Natural Causes

Christopher O’Driscoll was seventeen. The HSE knew about him since he was ten. Since then, he had been in and out of care facilities, an when they were full, bed and breakfasts, or hotels.

On May Day weekend last year, he had nowhere to go. The administrators had shut down their computers, closed their offices, and gone home for the weekend. A social worker used her own credit card to book him into a hotel.

Within hours, he was expelled for disruptive behaviour, and end up in a squat. Sometime over the weekend, he died there. GardaĆ­ called to the scene after his body was discovered failed to find him, and he lay there for another two days before being rediscovered.

One poignant detail featured in the inquest reports. Christopher was found curled up on the floor with a set of rosary beads in his hand.

Two months ago, Christopher became a national statistic. Responding to media criticism that up to 200 children died in state care, the HSE reported that “nineteen children died from natural causes and health related conditions” in the last decade.

Christopher died of pneumonia.

The others have stories too. Their stories need to be told.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.