It is “absolutely scandalous” that the Child & Family Agency (Tusla) has placed a troubled teen in an apartment in Co Louth where he is free to roam around a town until 11pm every night, a judge has stated.
At the family court in Ennis, Judge Patrick Durcan lashed out at Tusla’s failure to date to have in place any structure or therapies for the 16-year-old at his new placement.
The boy was moved by Tusla to the apartment from a residential unit in Co Clare earlier this week and Judge Durcan said: “The CFA has put nothing in place for this boy other than fixing him up an apartment and brought him out shopping — this for a 16-year-old. I think what is being done in this case is absolutely scandalous.”
Ann Walsh, solicitor for the boy’s mother, said the mother “is distraught” at the absence of structure or therapies in place for her son in spite of undertakings made by Tusla at a previous court hearing into the boy’s care.
The court heard previously that the boy lashed out at his mother verbally after losing at computer game Fifa 16, which he would play for hours. The boy has not attended school since the start of the year and Ms Walsh said that the boy’s behaviour has escalated since May.
Judge Durcan noted that gardaí were required to quell the situation at the boy’s previous placement on July 8: “The boy is moved across Ireland to a totally different part of the country — Co Louth is a world away from Clare culturally, linguistically — in every other way, it is a different world.”
The judge said the boy “has a myriad of problems” and he has been given free rein in Co Louth and nothing has been done to set up professional therapies.
“There is no structure in place” said Judge Durcan. “Nobody was doing the ground work. No one was doing the advance work. We can use all of the language used in these cases, ‘case conferences’, ‘interventions’ — wonderful buzz words, but the reality is that there is a 16-year old boy living in a strange society.”
Counsel for the boy’s guardian ad litem, or independent voice, Catherine McLoone BL, said the guardian is confident that Tusla are going to ensure that the structures are put in place. Ms McLoone said that the Guardian’s view is that the new placement is “appropriate” and the child must be allowed settle and adapt to his new surroundings.
Judge Durcan said he was surprised by the guardian’s approach.
Solicitor for Tusla, Kevin Sherry, said the boy has only been at his new placement for two nights: “There is no question that he is being given free rein. We were very much hamstrung getting supports in place until we got the placement confirmed. It is still very early days and the issue of therapeutic intervention will be nailed down very quickly.”
Mr Sherry said a case conference is scheduled for July 29. Judge Durcan adjourned the case to next week in order to get commitments that the structure and therapies will be put in place for the boy as soon as possible.
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