During the hearing, the court heard the mother had alleged her brother had sexually abused the child and had reported the matter to the gardaí, but nothing had happened. The judge invited the HSE to seek a supervision order instead of an ICO.
“If the court were to grant an ICO, the chances of [the mother] being reunited with her child at this stage would be greatly minimised in that it is greatly difficult for her to bond with her child. The court believes that the mother deserves a chance.”
The case was one of three hard-fought cases in which the State failed in its application for care orders, according to reports published today by the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
However, the State succeeded in obtaining a care order for a young baby whose parents had moved to Ireland from another jurisdiction and who both had drug issues. An older child had previously been taken into care.
A social worker from the other jurisdiction gave evidence of the circumstances leading to the first baby going into care. He had been found in unsanitary conditions, extremely dirty and hungry, with dark shadows under his eyes. The parents were seriously involved in drug abuse and there was domestic violence.
A clinical psychologist gave evidence that the father had a personality disorder. The mother adored her child, but carried deep emotional wounds from her own background.
The judge granted the care order until the baby was 18.
The risk to children from parents engaged in drug and alcohol abuse, from poor parental mental health, poverty and social isolation are common themes in the cases analysed by the Child Care Law Reporting Project since it was set up in 2012.
The reports show the secure care system for children with acute problems remains severely stretched, with children in need of secure care put in residential units where their out-of-control behaviour leads to criminal charges, leading to their incarceration in juvenile detention centres, rather than secure care with therapeutic supports.
Pressure on family law courts is revealed by the fact there were 60 cases on the list in one family law day in a rural town.