Several inquiries are expected to get under way in a bid to establish the circumstances around the tragic death of 17-year-old Shane O’Connor, son of singer Sinéad O’Connor.
A number of expert sources have said the responsibilities and care duties of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, and of the HSE, are likely to come under examination, either in these inquiries or as a result of pressure from Ms O’Connor and public attention.
Shane, whose father is musician Donal Lunny, was found dead near Bray, Co Wicklow, late on Friday.
Gardaí issued a missing person’s appeal for him on Thursday, the third such formal appeal for Shane in the last three years.
One key issue is expected to be the legal basis of Shane’s treatment for mental health issues at Tallaght Hospital — including if he was there on a voluntary or involuntary basis.
There are suggestions from some sources he was there voluntarily, but this could not be confirmed.
Ms O’Connor has made a series of allegations against Tusla, Tallaght Hospital, and the HSE as well as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs), which come under HSE.
It is understood Shane went missing from a ward in the hospital on Thursday and that hospital staff informed his legal guardians, Tusla, which, in turn, alerted gardaí.
It is understood he had been under the care of Tusla for some years and had a court-appointed officer (guardian ad litum or GAL) to protect his interests.
In one of a series of tweets Ms O’Connor has sent, she said she had received a call from his “GAL”, after she had been informed by gardaí of the tragedy.
GALs can be appointed by courts under either childcare legislation or mental health legislation, sources have explained.
Inquiries are expected include:
- Tusla has protocols to set up an investigation when a child in its care dies;
- Given Shane appears to be subject to a childcare order, sources believe his case is likely to be re-entered before the judge, who may ask questions as to what happened. It is understood that, at such a hearing, the parents, and their lawyers, could attend and seek information;
- Gardaí are conducting an investigation file