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The case is being heard today. PA Archive/Press Association Images
High Court

"Disturbing evidence" of alleged sexual abuse of children is heard behind closed doors

An application will be made to exclude media from courtroom during evidence by gardai.

“DISTURBING EVIDENCE” ABOUT alleged sexual abuse and brutal treatment of two children under the age of 10 has been and will continue to be read behind closed doors, the High Court heard today.

Despite the fact that the vitally important evidence can be reported in accordance with a court order banning any identification of the parties and despite it being of major public interest, it will in the main be kept secret.

All news media representatives were also warned today that an application will be made to exclude them from court when two gardaí give vital evidence of alleged criminal sexual behaviour of the children’s parents is put before the court.

Ms Justice Marie Baker was hearing legal submissions on whether or not the High Court Wardship process was the appropriate legal step to be taken for the protection of the vulnerable children.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) wants to put the children back in the care of their parents who allegedly sexually abused and brutalised them. Two foster parents who have been caring for the children for the past four years have gone to court to block the move.

When High Court President, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, on 18 August temporarily restrained the children being re-united with their parents he said the alleged sexual abuse and brutal treatment of the two children was the most disturbing evidence he had read in 20 years on the bench.

The Child and Family Agency “inexplicably” withdrew an application to the District Court for a care order relating to the children after a judge had listened to evidence and legal argument for 29 days. The agency has been promoting the children’s reunification with their natural parents.

They have remained in the care of their foster parents for almost three months with overnight access to the natural parents. The court has been told that the CFA has carried out “an extraordinarily detailed risk assessment study” before supporting family reunification.

Graham Dwyer case PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The children were to have been reunited with their natural parents on 23 August but this move was blocked by Judge Kelly on 18 August when he decided that another judge of the High Court would have to hear and decide on the wards of court application that is proceeding today.

Judge Kelly stated that on the evidence he had read the children would be going back into a situation that would be very detrimental to them and he had concerns that the parents had overnight access to the children.

He said the court had seen affidavits and reports alleging sexual abuse and cruelty of the children involving a family relative.

Judge Kelly had told the CFA that if any plan was going to be made to grant further overnight access between the children and their natural parents the court would want to be told about it first. He would have no objection to day time access in a supervised situation.

The cases continues before Judge Baker today.

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