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National Review Panel. (2021) National Review Panel annual report 2020. Dublin: Tusla.

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The NRP was established eleven years ago in 2010 following a recommendation of the Ryan Implementation Report by the Office of the Minister for Children in 2009 and since that time has submitted reports on the deaths of 105 children or young people who were in care or known to child protection services. In addition, the NRP has submitted reports on serious incidents affecting the lives of 20 children, four of whom were in foster care when they were victims of abuse.

P.11 3.2.4 Alcohol and Domestic Violence: Research notes that when disharmony and violence co-exist with alcohol abuse, children are more likely to suffer long term adverse effects. It is further noted that parental drug misuse produces mood swings and inconsistent behaviour that can be frightening for children. 

P.12 Table 6 Cause of death summary 2010 to 2020 [includes Drug overdose; see also Table 9]

When the overall figures are examined, it is notable that death from natural causes occurred in the majority of cases (39%). This figure covers a wide range of conditions, including congenital and chronic conditions, childhood illnesses such as cancer and viral infections and Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy. The latter category included the deaths of some infants where maternal drug use in pregnancy was a factor and some though not all of the infants had traces of non-prescribed medication in their systems at birth.

4.2 Deaths from suicide: A total of fifty six young people whose deaths were notified to the NRP over the past eleven years died from suicide. This represents nearly a quarter of all notified deaths. Fifteen of the young people who died from suicide were in care or aftercare. The age range was 12 years to 22, the most prevalent between 15 and 16 years with another high proportion between 17 and 18 years.

4.3 Deaths from other causes: The next highest combined total concerns accidents. These included incidents such as drowning, falls, domestic accidents and road accidents. A minority of these were associated with risky behaviour and in total account for almost 20% of deaths. Drug overdose accounts for 7% and the numbers have been fluctuating. Homicide accounts for nearly 6% of deaths. Where a coroner or post mortem has failed to identify a cause of death, this is classified as unknown, which accounts for an average of 7% of deaths

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