A new website aimed at providing an insight into why children are taken into State care went live today.

Among the details in the law reports are instances where small children have been left without food or heating.

The Child Care Law Reporting Project will allow people to see for the first time why children end up in HSE care.

The dedicated website will publish regular reports from the courts that make orders under the Child Care Act.

The law currently prohibits the media from reporting on these cases.

Project director Dr Carol Coulter said there was widespread recognition that the entire area had been "shrouded in secrecy" for too long.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said some of the neglect of children is quite shocking.

In one case, she said: "Three very small children were found completely alone in a flat with no heating, no lighting, no food.

"They were found by a guard and brought into emergency care."

"I do think we need to know what goes on in order to have a proper debate about how to protect children and how to ensure that their welfare is provided for."

Dr Coulter also expressed surprise that many of the cases returned to the courts over and over again, and did not come to an end.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said that the site will shed new light into very complex proceedings involving children and families in our courts.

She said it will also show the dark side of abuse and neglect in Ireland.