Kevin O'Higgins Solicitors

Children taken into care following neglect allegations

Monday, 12 October, 2015
The Irish Times
Fiona Gartland

A family of young children were taken into the care of the Child and Family Agency yesterday after the judge heard allegations of emotional abuse and neglect. Their father, who is separated from the children’s mother and not their carer, sobbed in court and begged the judge to allow him to have custody of his children.

The children’s mother acknowledged that she was not in a position to care for them at present.

Dublin District Family Court heard the couple, who were not married, had split in 2014.

The social worker told Judge Marie Quirke that the children’s school attendance was very poor and the mother lacked motivation to complete necessary tasks, including taking them to medical appointments.

The social worker said he made very regular visits to the mother’s home and the young children were regularly outside unsupervised.

He said he had witnessed the youngest running out in front of a car, while older children had thrown stones and broken windows.

“Mother struggles with boundaries; the respect isn’t there,” he said.

“They are spending a lot of time in the park and beginning to get into anti-social behaviour.”

He accepted that the mother had health problems that made her lack energy.

The agency had “exhausted every mechanism” to support her over the last three years, he said, but nothing had worked.

The social worker said there were concerns over the father caring for the children.

He said that the couple had a history of domestic violence, witnessed by the children, and although the father had “calmed down”, he still needed to address his anger issues.
He also said the father was living with his mother and sister in a two-bedroom house.

The father had suggested the children could have one room, his mother and sister the other, and that he could sleep on the couch.

The court heard that there had been an attack on the mother’s home and it had been searched for drugs in the past.

The social worker accepted the father, who saw his children once a week, was loving and he described both parents as “extremely nice people”.

He said a rural foster home had been sourced for the children and they would be kept together.

He had agreed with the mother that they would be told she was unwell and that they were going away for a break.

Interim care order

A solicitor for the mother said she did not accept all of the allegations against her, but accepted the necessity for an interim care order, a short-term order.

The father, who was not represented in court, begged the judge not to make an order.

“Please, your honour, don’t take my kids away; my kids are my life,” he said.

“They would never be the same if they go into care.”

He said there was no need for it and suggested family members who could help care for them.

“They have me . . . their hearts will be broken,” he said.

The judge said the children’s hearts would not be broken so long as he was “there for them and supported them”.

She asked the social worker to ensure the father got greater access to the children than he currently had.

She made an interim order to November 5th.

“These children have very loving parents; everybody has their problems, but that is something you can’t buy,” the judge said.