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Project gives fascinating - and shocking - look into Ireland's child care system

The Child Care Law Reporting Project will publish its third volume of reports tomorrow.

Image: Child via Shutterstock

DETAILS OF CHILD care cases heard in court have been detailed online as part of an ongoing project.

The Child Care Law Reporting Project, run by Dr Carol Coulter, gives a fascinating and often shocking look at life for some of Ireland’s children.

One case describes how an Emergency Care Order was issued for a child who had been living in a direct provision centre for eight years.

Dr Coulter told that the child’s mother was sent for psychiatric care, leading to the child being put in the care of the HSE.

The site also details how Care Orders were ordered for three children who were psychologically disturbed as a result of their early experiences.


The project was set up in November last year in order to report on cases where the HSE seeks orders involving child protection. These orders may be Care Orders, taking children into care either temporarily or until they are 18, or Supervision Orders, where social workers can visit vulnerable children in their homes.

This is the third volume of cases, and once again includes a number where the HSE brought proceedings because of risks caused by alcohol or drug abuse on the part of the parents.

“The themes of alcohol and drug addiction are hardy perennials,” said Coulter. “A lot of kids are just not getting basic care because of their parents’ addictions.”

In one case, the children of a homeless drug user were taken into care; in another, an Emergency Care Order was granted for the baby of a young girl – herself a minor – who was abusing drugs.

A third case saw a Care Order granted for a child whose mother was unable to provide basic care because of her addictions.

The cases can have a variety of conclusions – in one instance, a Care Order was only made for seven months so that the mother could deal with her problems, which included alcohol, lack of resources and accommodation.

One case saw three children returned to their mother despite their own objections. They were later taken into care when their mother did not stick to the conditions of the Supervision Order.


A Care Order for two young children until the age of 18 was refused in one case, and an order granted for a year was given instead.

This was granted so that the HSE could work with the parents – who were separated – during this time with a view to them caring for the children.

Care Orders for five children were deferred when the parents agreed to take a parenting course in a residential centre.

Another case saw the HSE going to court to dispense with the consent of parents for a child in care to take karate lessons.

The project has now published 90 reports from District Courts. It is analysing all of the cases and will publish is findings in its interim report, due out on 5 November.

To read the reports, visit the website:

Read: Gardaí investigate ‘true identity’ of girl (7) taken from Tallaght home>

Read: Child care court reports show drug abuse, violence and mental illness>

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