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    HSE sending children abroad involuntarily for care

    By Noreen Bowden | May 21, 2008

    A local newspaper report has revealed that it is HSE policy to send troubled children out of the country  to as far away as the US Рfor services that they say are not available in Ireland. The report says that children are being held against their will, without physical contact with their families, and have had their passports confiscated.

    The Mayo News is reporting this week that five teenagers who had been put into the care of the Health Service Executive are now in the Boys Town camp in Nebraska. The first teen was sent from Roscommon two years ago as part of what the newspaper calls ‘an experiment’; three more may be sent out by the end of May. The paper reports that it is the ordinary policy of the programme to only hold children against their will for a six-month period; after that, they are ordinarily free to leave. However, the passports of the Irish children have been confiscated, and a number of them have been kept against their will for six months, according to the report.

    Another issue raised in the report is that it is Boys Town policy to encourage visits between families and children, but Irish parents have been denied access to their children.

    The HSE acknowledged that its policy is to send young people abroad sometimes, in a statement to the newspaper:

    From time to time the HSE use facilities outside its jurisdiction, including facilities in the UK and USA. These children are under the care of the HSE and are sent under the direction of the court for specialised treatment that is not available in Ireland. There would be regular reviews, care plans and ongoing contact between these facilities and HSE staff.

    Kieran McGrath, a child welfare consultant told the Today FM’s evening drivetime programme that there are over 5,000 children in care in Ireland and about ten have been sent out of the country because the services the HSE says they need are not available here.

    Of reports that they are being held against their will, Mr McGrath said, “Youngsters always want to go home, it doesn’t matter whether they are far away or near at home, youngsters will always want to go home, regardless of the circumstances.”

    The newspaper concludes its report with the following:

    In 1778, many Irish children that misbehaved were sent to New Zealand’s Botany Bay. It is astounding that 230 years later, children are still being sent to remote camps in far-flung parts of the world as a solution to their behavioural problems.

    See the Mayo Echo website.

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