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Tusla offices at the Brunel building in Dublin. Sam Boal

'Vulnerable' girl taken into care after entering Ireland with man claiming to be her uncle

The girl had arrived into Ireland from Ukraine.

A “VERY VULNERABLE” young girl who entered Ireland from Ukraine with a man claiming to be her uncle was suspected to have been a victim of trafficking.

She was taken into emergency care after an application was made to the District Court by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.  

The details are outlined in a new report by the Child Law Project.

Tusla’s application was granted by the District Court for the emergency care order (ECO) in respect of the unaccompanied minor.

The man was arrested and later released without charge. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

“The minor had arrived in Ireland with cuts and a bruise on her face and in the company of a man who was no relation,” the Child Law Project said in its report.

Although she was with a man older than her, the judge granted the ECO and said that the girl was a vulnerable child who had come into the country with a man who was no relation to her, and with no parent to care for her, despite claims by one man who said she was her uncle.

The court had heard from a social worker who outlined that the child presented at the Ukrainian centre at the airport when she arrived into Ireland with no identification and in the company of this man, who the judge accepted was not a stranger to her.

“The child was interviewed by a social worker and initially said that the man was her uncle but then said that he was her cousin. It later transpired that the man was not related to her,” the report read.

The judge then said: “If someone was trying to traffic someone from Ukraine they wouldn’t bring her to the Ukraine centre?”

According to the report, the social worker responded: “No, they wouldn’t, but there are people checking at the airport.”

The girl told authorities that she had known the man for four years and that he bought her nice things. She also said that her parents didn’t look after her.

Tusla had attempted to make telephone contact with the girl’s family using numbers in the child’s phone but had been unsuccessful.

The Child Law Protect added: “It was understood her mother and grandmother were in two different EU countries.

“One of the people contacted, the mother’s former partner, told Tusla that the man the girl was with was not a good man and that she should be taken away from him.”

The man who accompanied the girl to Ireland was arrested and interviewed by the Gardaí. He was released without charge and his whereabouts were currently unknown.

The girl said she met the man in school four years ago, and that he was a good man. She had asked repeatedly if she could speak with him and said that she wanted to speak to him about a “lady issue” at one point.

The court was told that she presented as a “very vulnerable person”.

The girl had told the social worker that she was 17 and provided a passport, but the social worker told the court that she presented as much younger.

The social worker said that it might be that the girl had some intellectual difficulties because even with the Ukrainian interpreter it was difficult to understand her.

The girl told social workers that she attended a special school in the Ukraine and that her stepfather drank vodka all of the time.

Having heard the details of the case, the judge granted the emergency care order.

The report can be read in full here.

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