ChildLinks Issue 3

Barnardos. (2001). ChildLinks Issue 3.
Fifteen-year-old Kim O'Donovan was found dead in a bed and breakfast hostel on August 24" 2000. She had died from a drug overdose. Kim was a vulnerable young woman with great difficulties but also with a lot of promise and strength. Her parents placed her in the care of the Eastern Health Board but Kim had absconded from that care at the time of her tragic death. Many questions remained following the initial shock and sadness. However, the main and most disturbing question of all, “Was this tragic death of a young woman avoidable?”, continues to be unanswered. On October 12th, 2001, more than a year after Kim O’Donovan’s death, Mr. Justice Peter Kelly issued his report on the results of the High Court inquiry into the circumstances around Ms O’Donovan’s disappearance. Mr. Justice Kelly was highly critical of the health board, particularly for the breakdown of communication between the board and Gardai during the weeks before Ms O’Donovan was found. He also called the withholding of a letter from Ms O’Donovan to him “a serious infringement of her rights”. Barnardos believes that the best way to commemorate Kim's far too short life would be for the Government to undertake a fundamental and much needed reform of the care of vulnerable children in Ireland. This reform should start from the reality of today’s substantial inadequacies and should set very specific targets to be achieved within five years.