“We’re just our age, we can’t turn that clock back”, said the grandfather of the child Tusla removed, after it was decided he and his wife were too old to provide adequate foster care.
“All we’re fighting for is justice, that’s all we want. We’ve done no wrong, what have we to answer for?” he told the Irish Examiner.
“We were gutted to bits, because he was our pride and joy. We’re after investing so much in him, we were so delighted to see him grow up on what we have done for him and how he was doing in school,” he added.
The boy was moved to another county last October, after the grandparents were deemed too old to care for him. There were five other grounds cited for removing the child from their care.
The grandfather believes the child wishes to return to his grandparents.
“He wants to come back, he was back here for a day or two and I asked him how he was getting on, and how did he like where he was and where would he like to live. ‘I’d love to live here,’ he said, ‘and go back to school. I don’t like the school I’m in.’ The problem is the child’s voice is never listened to,” the grandfather said.
“It was the saddest day of our lives the day we had to take him there ourselves, and leave him behind us and go home without him. That was the saddest day of our lives.
“We tried to do it the best we could, sure he knew himself. He said to his granny inside at the table one evening, ‘Nana are they going to break up another home on me?’ He said that himself,” said the grandfather.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, does not comment on individual cases, but wished to reassure the public that their main concern is always the child.
“In light of recent media coverage into the care arrangements of a child who had been living with their grandparents Tusla wishes to reassure the public that our main concern is always to ensure that each child is living with a carer who is best suited to meet their needs,” spokeswoman told the Irish Examiner.
The case, which has gained national attention, was brought to the attention of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, by Independent TD for Tipperary Mattie McGrath. Mr McGrath said he will now ask Ms Zappone to set up an independent body to review Tusla decisions.
“I am putting in a request to Minister Zappone’s office to have an independent review body set up,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Meanwhile, Age Action said that the contribution grandparents make to society is not appreciated enough.
Grandparents are essentially providing free childcare in Ireland, said the Age Action spokesman.
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