Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children Robert Troy TD has called on Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to take immediate action to address concerns raised by HIQA over the care of children in state care.

Deputy Troy made the comments after HIQA issued a detailed report into the Ballydowd Special Care Unit in Lucan, Dublin. The report highlighted how children are being subjected to degrading conditions while under the care of the state.

“This latest HIQA report is truly shocking. It outlines how children at the country’s largest special care unit are being subjected to inhumane and degrading conditions. The report essentially tells us that the HSE is letting down numerous children when it comes to the provision of adequate and suitable care” said Deputy Troy.

“The conditions that some of the children at the care unit are being forced to endure is disgraceful. It’s simply not acceptable that children were locked in a room for hours on end without having access to a bathroom, leaving them with no other option but to urinate on the floor. The revelation that some children were forced to go in excess of five days without a shower is equally disturbing.

“There is no doubt that these children were disruptive prior to being admitted to the care unit, but that does not excuse their deplorable treatment while in the care of the state. The purpose of admitting children to a care unit in the first instance is to try and rehabilitate them. However this cannot occur when they are treated in such a poor manner.

“Based on this HIQA report it is clear that the unit is dysfunctional. It is simply not a suitable environment for children in its current form, and management at the centre will have to take this into account. The basic rights of children are being interfered with and this cannot be allowed to continue.

“The staff at the centre are under-resourced, lack proper facilities and are being denied access to the training they need to deal with the children they encounter on a day to day basis. Staff members have been subjected to at least two serious assaults in recent months and it is no surprise that, in the absence of proper facilities, they are being forced to deprive children of their rights.

“I am calling on Minister Varadkar to take immediate action to address the chaotic situation at the care unit. Additional resources need to be provided to ensure these children are adequately cared for, and the concerns of staff members need to be taken on board without any further delay.”