Judge overrules Tusla decision not to put troubled teen in special care

A High Court judge has quashed a decision by Tusla that a teenage boy should not be given a special care placement.

The boy's mother had challenged decisions of the Tusla/The Child and Family Agency's Special Care Referral Committee in March and April of this year refusing to seek a court order that would have resulted in the teen being placed in a special care unit.

The action was opposed by the CFA, but in his judgment, Mr Justice Michael McGrath held that there was no material before the committee upon which it could reasonably arrive at the decision it did.

The teen, who cannot be identified for legal reasons had been previously been the subject of a special care order and had been given several placements.

The court heard that the teen is vulnerable he has has been involved in several violent incidents when under the influence of drugs and other illicit substances.

He is facing charges for criminal offences including assault and theft.

There are fears that he is capable of extreme violence, and that he also glorifies and justifies violent behaviour.

His health safety and welfare are also at risk, and he may be a target of being recruited by gangland figures, the court heard.

The teen's court-appointed guardian, the guardian ad-litem supported the mother's application.

As well as seeking to have the order quashed the mother had also sought declarations from the court including that the decisions were irrational, unreasonable, without foundation and in breach of the teenager's constitutional rights.

The CFA had said in its decisions that the boy did not meet the required threshold for a special care order and that there would be no therapeutic benefit in readmission to special care.

The CFA had opposed the application. It denied that the decision was in any way flawed and said it had provided the teen with several placements and had done its best to provide various supports for him.

It also argued that the application was an attempt to have decisions about placing teens in special care taken away from the CFA's committee and would instead be made by the courts.

In his judgement, Mr Justice McGrath said this was a difficult case, but found that the mother was entitled to the relief sought.

The Judge said that after considering the materials put before the court there was no material put before it in respect of the teen in which it could reasonably arrive at the reason it gave not to make a special care order in respect of the boy.

The court accepted that the function of the CFA's committee is to make decisions in respect of special care orders.

He said there was no transgression in the separations of powers in his finding that there was no rational or reasonable basis for the committee to conclude that the teen's behaviour did not pose a risk.

The matter will return before the court later this month for final orders.

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