Hundreds Of Children In Care Go 'Missing'

A Fine Gael TD has revealed that since 2000, some 434 children have gone missing from the State's care system, and remain unfound.

Fine Gael Immigration & Integration Spokesman, Denis Naughten TD, said that the rate of children disappearing from state care is growing and accused the Governemnt of "gross neglect of the issue".

According to figures acquired by Mr Naughten on Thursday, 33 more children have gone missing from State care since January, with 29 still unaccounted for.

Mr Naughten said Ireland had been identified as a major route for the trafficking of children and expressed concern over the welfare of the lost children.

"It is clear that many of these young children are being coerced or enticed from State care into lives of depravity and prostitution.

"There is strong evidence to suggest that the HSE hostels are little more than 'grooming grounds' for those seeking to prey on vulnerable children," he said.

The figures since 2000 show that 496 children put into HSE accommodation had disappeared after being placed in care by the Department of Justice, 434 of which remain missing.

Mr Naughten added: "The Government must immediately end the practice of placing separated children into hostels without proper care, supervision or standards.

"This dereliction of care on behalf of the State has allowed those who wanted to exploit and abuse children in the past to go undetected."

In April an early-warning 'Amber Alert' system to find children abducted or missing in Ireland was given the go-ahead after years of campaigning.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern launched the system, named after the American model of rapid response to find children.

The move came after the Garda Inspectorate made 18 recommendations in a report, including the need for gardaí to work more closely with the media and foreign police.


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