A scathing independent inquiry into the deaths of children in state care revealed a harrowing tale and a litany of shame, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
Efforts to protect vulnerable young people in care, after care and known to the Health Service Executive, failed despite the country's economic wealth during the Celtic Tiger boom.
Child law expert Geoffrey Shannon and Norah Gibbons, of Barnardos - who examined 112 unnatural deaths in the ten years up to 2010 - found the majority of children did not receive an adequate child protection service.
Mr Kenny commended the pair for the clarity "in respect of what is a harrowing tale and a litany of shame".
The inquiry team hit out at health chiefs, stating there was poor procedures, human error, an avoidance of responsibility, inability to make decisions, weak management and little done to help youngsters with severe psychological needs.
"I think you will find this report profoundly shocking, disturbing and deeply distressing, if not utterly distressing," said Mr Shannon.
"This is a devastating indictment of the child protection system.
"It shows a child protection system that is overwhelming inadequate, a child protection system that is not fit for purpose."
Of 17 unnatural deaths in care there were five suicides, five drug-related, three killed in road crashes, two unlawfully killed and two accidental.
Good practice was sporadic and inconsistent, there was poor record keeping, delays in taking children into care, and no critical incident reports into the deaths of 26 of the 36 youngsters.