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Tragic Ben Robinson's parents praise Education Minister John O'Dowd


The parents of a schoolboy who died playing rugby as a result of a second impact concussion have commended Education Minister John O'Dowd for a swift response to concerns the case raised.

But the family of Carrickfergus Grammar pupil Benjamin Robinson also expressed concern at what they see is a continuing lack of action by the Irish Rugby Football Union on the subject.

After a meeting with Benjamin's family, Mr O'Dowd wrote to all schools in Northern Ireland to provide information on concussion injuries to improve awareness of its dangers. He has asked them to ensure that those who run sporting activities at schools, including parents and pupils themselves, are aware of the risks.

Benjamin (14) died from "second impact syndrome" after a school match in January 2011.

Mr O'Dowd said: "I want to ensure that schools are aware of the dangers of concussion and the fact that it can lead to death. I also want to highlight second impact syndrome, a rare condition which can occur when a person with symptoms related to concussion suffers a second head injury."

He added: "Following Benjamin's inquest, I committed to implementing any lessons that could be learned from this tragic incident, which had such a devastating impact on those who knew him. Caral Ni Chuilin, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, who has responsibility for sport in the North, and I met with Benjamin's parents in recent weeks and I have also had discussions with the Chief Medical Officer."

Benjamin's mother Karen said: "We welcome this course of action from the Education Minister, and the prompt manner in which he has taken it, bearing in mind we met with him less than a month ago. It does, however, highlight the fact other bodies more closely attached to the sport of rugby union have dragged their heels."

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An IRFU spokesman said: "The IRFU welcome the minister's commitment to concussion awareness. In recent weeks the IRFU, in conjunction with Ulster Rugby, held a number of concussion recognition and management seminars for club and schools and we are now putting the finishing touches to a concussion awareness guide which will reflect guidelines advised to Unions by the IRB this week."

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