A 90-year-old County Clare man and his wife, in her early eighties, are in the throes of divorce proceedings in the circuit court, a court has heard.
In a bitter family dispute that goes beyond the couple’s marital break-up and involves the couple’s adult children, the man has obtained a Protection Order against an adult daughter after he told the court that she “threatened to smash my face and I am concerned about my safety”.
In a separate action involving the rural family, the mother has obtained a Protection Order against a son of the couple who farms land around the family home where the estranged parents live and where he provides support to his father.
The 90-year-old man required physical help from a Garda and his solicitor to make his way to a seat in the courtroom at the Family Law court at Ennis while his estranged wife was unable to come to court due to her own health difficulties.
Solicitor for the adult son - who was in court - Shiofra Hassett told the court: “The father is 90 years of age. The parents are essentially separated and living in the same house and they are in the throes of divorce proceedings in the circuit court.
“My client is continuing to try to support his father at the family home. He also works a farm where the family home is situated and is there on a daily basis.” Solicitor for the mother who is now seeking a Safety Order against her son, Aisling Carr, told the court that her client suffers from a variety of medical conditions and “she is concerned that the son is not complying with Nphet guidelines when he is in the house”.
In response, Judge Mary Larkin stated: “Can I tell you that is nothing to do with the Safety Order.
Ms Hassett said that the alleged breach of the Nphet guidelines is the basis for the Safety Order application against her client.
Ms Carr replied: “There are other issues but matters could be circumvented if the son undertakes to comply with the Nphet guidelines and undertakes to stay away from his mother when he is visiting his father.”
Judge Larkin said: “This is a couple who just aren’t getting on and one side is supporting the other. There is conflict in the family.” Judge Larkin stated that she would be most disinclined to make a Safety Order against the son as he is helping out his father.
Judge Larkin stated: “I think the matter should be resolved by an undertaking.” The judge remarked that the matter was before court “just because the parents are in a tangle about getting separated”.
The judge told Ms Hassett to tell the son “to wear a mask if he is in the house. The parents are old”.
Judge Larkin stated that the Protection Order would continue for the mother against her son until the next court date and told the son “make yourself scarce is all I can say to you”. She stated that if people don’t comply with the Covid-19 restrictions, it is a case of “‘keep on enjoying yourselves and you are going to kill your grannies’ - that is what is going to happen”.
Judge Larkin added:
She left her bench to go down to the body of the court in order to avoid "shouting" at the 90-year-old husband and father the contents of his statement grounding his Protection Order application and kept a social distance from the man when recounting the contents of his statement.
In the statement grounding his Protection Order against an adult daughter, the 90-year-old man also stated that his daughter is “shouting at me, banging doors, calling me names and causing me much upset”.
Judge Larkin adjourned the two Protection Order cases involving the mother against their son and the father against their daughter to next year.