Concerns are being raised about delays interviewing children over allegations of sexual abuse.
The issue has come up after the publication of the latest Child Care Law Report, which outlines 20 cases which have been subject to orders under the Child Care Act. (You can read the reports here.)
In one case, children were not interviewed by gardaí about sex abuse allegations for more than a year after the allegations were made.
The delay emerged in the course of a very lengthy and complex case. International best practice includes joint interviewing by gardaí and social workers in a timely way.
Director of the Project Dr Carol Coulter (pictured) said delays in dealing with sex abuse allegations could cause serious problems, and may be a resources issue.
"Children get older; their memories naturally fade. It's very difficult to get proper evidence in these kinds of circumstances," she said.
"These issues are vey worrying because evidence in such cases has to be as sound and robust as possible."
The latest volume of reports released today as part of the Child Care Law Reporting Project include the case of a baby boy being taken into care after his buggy was found by a Garda in a laneway while his homeless mother smoked heroin.
A court hearing was told the mother had a "beautiful relationship with her son and innate parenting skills", but she later became "overwhelmed by addiction".
During the first full Care Order hearing, the social worker noted again the relationship between the mother and child. She told the court that she had observed them in the back of the car together going to access. “[His mum] has a beautiful calm nature with [her son] which is also his nature, they have a beautiful interaction.”
However, the young mum, who will shortly trun 21, sank further into addiction. Ultimately, a full care order was put in place until her son turns 18.
Director of the Child Care Law Reporting Project Dr Carol Coulter said the case was very sad.
"Apparently, she's living in a tent, in an attempt to keep away from drug users in homeless accommodation. Everybody is extremely worried about her," she said.
The mum's own mother died from a drug overdose when she was very young.
"She did get supports from the (State) services. Unfortunately she didn’t get enough and they didn't happen early enough in her life."
The case can be read in full here.