State neglect and an under-funded childcare system were key factors in the death of murdered teenager Daniel McAnaspie, his funeral mass heard today.
The body of the 17-year-old, who was in HSE care, was found dumped in a ditch on farmland in Co Meath on May 13, almost three months after his disappearance.
Several hundred relatives and friends filed into the Church of the Annunciation in Finglas, west Dublin to pay a final farewell to the tragic youth, who had been socialising with a group of people in nearby Blanchardstown on the night he vanished.
In a strongly-worded eulogy, Fr Peter McVerry said despite the interventions of concerned social workers, the childcare system could not protect Daniel.
“Daniel was still a child. He should not have died,” the priest said.
“We can’t ignore this morning the fact that a major contributing factor to Daniel’s death was the neglect of the State.
“The failure of a dysfunctional and under-resourced childcare system to provide Daniel with a safe and secure place to live, where his needs could be addressed by the social and health system resulted in his early death.”
Daniel’s siblings have criticised the care given to him by the State after their parents Leo and Martina died, leaving six youngsters behind.
Fr McVerry, who has been working with the capital’s young homeless for more than 30 years, said the teenager’s legacy could be making Ireland a better and safer place for children like him.
He called for new management, new vision and more than a thousand extra social workers to bring standards up to the same level existing across the border.
“This childcare system will be expensive but if the failed banks can be given a blank cheque then a failed childcare system is no less important,” he said.
“Now the Government tells us they don’t have the money, they don’t have the resources – it means in government speak it’s not important enough.
“So for Daniel’s sake we have to ensure that that momentum for change, no matter what it costs, is maintained.”
Following Daniel’s disappearance his distraught family made several tearful appeals for information while specialist search teams combed nearby farmland and parks, with the Garda helicopter and sniffer dog units helping the investigation.
After his body was found in a drain at Rathfeigh in Co Meath, a post-mortem examination showed he had been stabbed to death.
At Daniel’s funeral his relatives recalled through their tears happy memories of a caring boy who always made people laugh.
Applause rippled through the quiet church after Daniel’s sister Nikita pledged to find justice for her murdered brother.
“Things will never be the same without you,” she added.
In front of the altar a collage of photographs showed the teenager playing football, meeting Santa Claus as a small child, and smiling broadly with loving friends and relatives.
Floral tributes were also placed around the church spelling out Dano, Brother, Nephew and Grandson.
Daniel’s grief-stricken family clung together for support as his coffin was slowly carried out of the building, followed by young mourners wearing special yellow ribbons in his honour.
Also among those attending the funeral were Minister of State for Integration Mary White and Labour TD Roisin Shortall.
From the church, the coffin was taken by a glass-sided, horse-drawn carriage to Glasnevin Cemetery for a private burial.