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emergency care order

Dublin court granted care order for child who entered Ireland in 'suspicious circumstances'

A garda carrying out immigration checks at a port invoked emergency orders after becoming concerned about the girl.

A DUBLIN DISTRICT Court judge granted a four day interim care order for a young girl who arrived in the state by ferry from the UK. She was accompanied by two adults – a man who claimed to be her grandfather and a woman who only later claimed to be her mother. 

The child’s case is detailed in the latest volume of reports from the Child Law Project relating to cases from last year. 

Reporters from the project attend cases in District Courts around the country on a random basis, and report on cases involving children, while anonymising those involved.

The young girl was brought into state care, to be supported by the Child and Family Agency, pending the results of DNA tests which will determine her relationship to the adults who brought her to Ireland. 

A garda who was present at the port when the two adults arrived with the young child testified in court. 

She told the judge that she had been conducting immigration checks in the port ten days prior, when she encountered a man and a woman.

She said the man presented a driving licence by way of identification and was let through immigration, however while he was entering, the garda noticed that he was trying to push through a buggy with a young child in it.

She said a woman appeared to be assisting him in getting the child off the ferry. 

The woman also provided a driver’s licence, but the garda was not satisfied with the authenticity of the ID. 

She told the court that the man claimed to be the child’s grandfather, and presented a letter which he claimed was from the child’s mother, granting permission for her to travel to Ireland with him. 

The garda had noticed, however, that the child was calling the woman with the man ‘mammy’. The woman said this was because she had formed a bond with the child on the journey over, the garda told the court. 

She would later identify herself as the child’s mother, but has not to date, according to the report, produced any documentation to evidence the relationship or her own identity. 

The garda was not satisfied with the explanation around the child’s custody, and invoked the emergency powers of the Child Care Act, whereby in the event that a garda believes there is an immediate risk to a child, they can remove them to safety. 

The garda told the court that food was provided to the adults and the child, and that the child slept for a few hours. 

The officer said the woman “just got up and left the child”, and had not been back in contact with gardaí since. A social worker said that, after they became involved in the child’s case, the woman did enquire after the child’s well-being once, and cancelled two arranged meetings. 

A garda inspector also appeared in court. He said that the child’s case had come to his attention during the previous week and that a member of his team had notified Tusla. 

The inspector said he travelled to see the man who had arrived in Ireland with the child, who claimed to be her grandfather, at a location outside of Dublin where the man was residing, and that the woman was with him at that time. 

The garda inspector told the court that the story provided about why the woman initially did not claim to be the child’s mother but later did, “did not make sense”. 

He said both the man and the woman provided DNA samples which would be tested in due course. 

The child’s allocated social workers appeared before the court and said that the child had settled into her emergency care placement well. The child was moved to a second placement after the first few days, and also settled in well there, according to the social worker. 

The social worker said that UK social services were in contact with the child’s father and grandparents, who appeared to be concerned. 

The judge in court was satisfied that the suspicions and professional concerns raised justified the use of emergency powers in this case, and that they had been invoked correctly. 

He said that he held concerns about the identity of the child and her parents.

The judge granted a short interim care order until the end of the week. He also ordered that a guardian ad litem be appointed to represent the child’s interests.