IRELANDS CHILD CARE 2 DEAR!

Withdrawn child care case ‘too toxic and cost too much’

District Court judge had already heard 29 days of evidence and was to hear further days

Two children were taken into care in March 2012 following concerns about substance abuse, domestic violence and neglect, Rosario Boyle SC told the High Court. File photograph: Getty Images Two
children were taken into care in March 2012 following concerns about
substance abuse, domestic violence and neglect, Rosario Boyle SC told
the High Court. File photograph: Getty Images

 
A legal case aimed at keeping two children in care amid allegations of sexual abuse was withdrawn by the Child and Family Agency because it was “too toxic and cost too much”, the High Court heard.
In an application by foster carers to make the two
children wards of court, counsel for the foster carers also said gardaí
investigating the case were not made aware of a proposal to reunite the
children with their parents and were concerned about it.
On Thursday, Rosario Boyle SC said social workers
told the foster carers that the child care case was also withdrawn
because the agency believed the proceedings were not going to reach a
conclusion.
She said this was an “extraordinary view to take” in
circumstances when a District Court judge had already heard 29 days of
evidence and was to hear further days.
The two children were taken into care in March 2012
following concerns about substance abuse, domestic violence and neglect,
Ms Boyle said.
The foster carers observed sexualised behaviour in
the children, and their two older siblings, with different foster
carers, made allegations of sexual abuse against an uncle.
After 18 months, the two younger children were
reunited with their parents, because the family living conditions had
improved, Ms Boyle said.
The older siblings then made allegations of sexual
abuse against their parents and said the parents had also abused the
younger children. The parents denied the allegations.
The children were returned to the foster carers in
April 2014 and a temporary care order was made for them. Earlier this
year, a full care order hearing began, to keep them in care until the
age of 18. It lasted 29 days, until the agency withdrew the application.
The District Court judge said he did not have the power to continue with the inquiry and could not make any findings.
Ms Boyle said, at a meeting in July, her clients were
told the case was withdrawn because it was “too toxic” and costly. They
had no alternative but to come to court to protect the children.
The children were due to be reunited with their
parents on August 25th, when the foster carers took action at the High
Court. A temporary order was then made keeping the children in care
pending a hearing.
Ms Boyle said there was a serious issue about the
capacity of the parents to parent. Ms Boyle said none of the allegations
made may be true or accurate, but in the absence of a proper inquiry,
the children should not be returned to their parents.
Gerard Durcan SC, for the children’s court-appointed
guardian, said his client had very significant concerns about the
children going back to their parents. She was at a loss to understand
why the agency acted in the way it did.
Mr Durcan highlighted children’s rights under the
Constitution, and said their best interests should be paramount. He said
the existence of the Childcare Act 1991, under which children are taken
into care, did not mean the High Court could not use its ward of court
powers, under the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961.
“There is a duty that now falls on the High Court –
to exercise the power to protect the afflicted, the people who cannot
protect themselves,” Mr Durcan said. He said the court could do whatever
was necessary to protect the children.
Ms Justice Marie Baker
said she would have to decide whether the High Court had jurisdiction
to deal with the case, the scope of the jurisdiction or whether there
were other remedies.

The agency and both parents are opposing the foster
carers’ application. They will make their submissions to court next week
when the case resumes

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