The Health Service Executive has disclosed that a total of 151 children or young adults who were known to social services have died in the past ten years.

This is in addition to the 37 deaths confirmed last week by the HSE of children who died while in the care of the State since 2000.

The HSE says it has been trawling through its records in response to the death of Daniel McAnaspie and other children who died in care.

In a statement this evening the HSE said of the 151 victims, 67 had died of natural causes and 84 had died of 'unnatural causes'.

Of the 84 unnatural deaths the breakdown for causes of death is as follows:

  • 21 Suicide
  • 10 Unlawful Killing
  • 14 Drug Related
  • 15 Road Traffic Accidents
  • 24 Other Accidents

The most vulnerable group appears to have been young adults - those who had been in care before they turned 18 and who died before their 21st birthday.

Of the 27 who died, 23 died of unnatural causes.

Deaths from natural causes during the period include deaths from illnesses such as brain tumours, leukaemia, heart disease and sudden infant death syndrome.

The HSE said that during the period it had around 200,000 referrals and had child protection concerns in relation to over 20,000 of these children.

Barnardos has expressed its 'shock and dismay' at the figures.

'Today we know that in total 188 children either known to or in the care of the HSE died in the last ten years. Of the 188 children who died in care, in aftercare or who were known to HSE child protection services, 102 died from unnatural causes.

'As a nation we must be appalled at the waste of young life and the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children must take control of this situation immediately,' said Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews said he expected there would be ‘shock’ at the scale of the numbers in the report.

He said a report written by an independent review group 'would provide the definitive account of how the State interacted with these children and the extent to which they were cared for or failed by the State'.

'In making comparisons with national averages, cognisance must be taken of the fact that, in the main, children who come into care have complex needs and are placed in care because of exceptional circumstances,' Minister Andrews added.

Fine Gael health spokesperson Alan Shatter strongly criticised the HSE for tragically failing children.

'What the HSE is still scandalously concealing is the number of children in the past decade, reported to be at risk, who died where there was a failure to take any action to assess their circumstances.'

Director of the Irish Association of Young People in Care Jennifer Gargan said she was shocked and saddened at the loss of so many young lives.

She said: 'It is extremely worrying that so many children already known to the child protection services and therefore known to be at risk, have died as a result of the HSE's failure to protect them and keep them safe.

'The reasons for this failure needs to be investigated as a matter of urgency.'