1 Jul 2008

CHILDREN’S voices must be listened to when they are at risk from harm, but in the case of Caroline, Sean, Bellina, Clodagh and James the cry for help was left unanswered.

This was the stark message from Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, on the day the report into the tragic deaths in Omagh last year is published.

The Commissioner said no-one can ignore children at risk but at Lammey Crescent their voices were not heard.

“The courage of Caroline in reporting domestic violence was not acted upon. The fact that a teenage girl was staying with a sex offender and the investigation at that time did not deal with the risk to the other children.

“These risks were never properly dealt with.”

Ms Lewsley said the failure to communicate the risks between all the professionals is horrifying.

“"Nothing was done for these children. Mr Toner’s report casts a harsh light on how Caroline, Sean, Bellina, Clodagh and James were let down,” said the Commissioner. 

“It is clear from this report that agencies were not talking to each other, individuals concerns were not listened to. Effectively the cry for help of Caroline was silenced by inaction. 

The Commissioner said the reports 63 recommendations must be raised and implemented immediately, but more importantly professionals and individuals must listen and act when a child or young person says they may be at risk.

“Unfortunately, the report highlights that there are still more than 300 cases of children and young people who have not been allocated a social work team in the Western Health and Social Care Trust alone. I hope the investment announced by the Minister for Health today will reduce this.” 

Ms Lewsley, speaking directly to children throughout Northern Ireland said: “If you feel you are at risk, or have concerns, speak out. I want children and young people to be heard.”