Parents of child (3) who died had drug addiction issues

Child dies in accident while in care of his father who had substances in system at time

Three-year-old Ray died while in his father's care. His parents, Richie and Cathy, both had addiction problems. The boy was on Tusla's books from his birth, and he was listed on its child protection warning system.

His parents made good progress and social workers reduced their involvement. However, a year later concerns were raised again and Cathy moved in with her parents who helped her to raise her son.

By this stage, Ray’s case had been transferred between three social workers because Tusla’s social workers were “under severe pressure”. At times, there was “very little contact” with Cathy and her family.

A fourth social worker took over the case and assessed that neither parent understood the impact of their drug use on Ray, and noted that Cathy was bringing Ray to her former home.


Warning notification system

Cathy struggled with her addiction, but Ray seemed well. He was removed from the child protection warning notification system. The parents separated, though the father remained involved in his son’s life.

Tusla social workers focused on Cathy's parenting issues. She entered a detox unit when Ray was three. Ray was to remain with her parents and the father had supervised access.

“Ray tragically died as a result of an accident while in Richie’s care . . . Toxicology results indicate Richie had a number of substances in his system at the time,” the National Review Panel report records.

Little had been done to deal with Ray’s father’s parenting skills, or the risk he posed to his son, or the nature of the ongoing relationship of the parents, despite their separation.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times