Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Dublin: 16°C Friday 19 August 2022

Children in 'disturbing' sex abuse case to remain in care until next year

The children, who are both under the age of ten, will continue in the care of their foster parents.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE NATURAL PARENTS of two children, aged under ten and alleged to have been sexually abused in a family environment, have told the High Court they will not take steps before February next year to overturn an agreement for them to remain in care.

Justice Marie Baker ruled that in the meantime a risk assessment study by the child and family agency, Tusla, if necessary under the direction of the District Court, be carried out on the possibility of the children returning to their natural parents.

They will continue in the care of their foster parents who had applied to have them made wards of court in a bid to block their being returned to the care of their natural parents.

Judge Baker was told today that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to bring any criminal prosecutions against the natural parents. She heard that an uncle of the children has been charged with serious offences.

Risk analysis

Rosario Boyle SC, counsel for foster parents currently looking after the children, said the DPPs decision was a new development in proceedings being heard by Judge Baker who reserved a decision on whether or not the court’s Wardship process was the appropriate way of dealing with the protection of the children.

Mary O’Toole SC appeared for the father of the children; Therese Blake SC represented their mother; Gerard Durkan SC, appeared for the children’s guardian ad litem and Shane Murphy SC appeared for Tusla.

Durkan told Judge Baker he wished to express concern that the CFA had failed to carry out an expected risk analysis regarding the children’s return to their natural parents.

He said, following a day of legal submissions, that the parties were agreed on the court accepting the undertaking of the natural parents for their children to remain in voluntary care while a risk assessment was carried out. Terms of the assessment were to be agreed by the parties and, on any failure to agree, the terms were to be determined by the District Court.

‘Disturbing evidence’

Judge Baker adjourned generally the question of the appropriateness of the High Court’s Wardship jurisdiction to deal with the care of the children. She said this meant the High court would retain a residual supervisory jurisdiction with regard to the children.

High Court President,  Justice Peter Kelly, on 18 August directed that the question of Wardship jurisdiction be considered by another judge after he made reference to “disturbing evidence” about alleged sexual abuse and brutal treatment of the children.

He temporarily restrained the children being re-united with their parents and 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.

Judge Baker has heard that Tusla “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 had been promoting the children’s reunification with their natural parents, but withdrew the District Court case on the 29th day on the basis it was “too toxic and cost too much.”

Judge Baker adjourned generally the question of jurisdiction and gave all of the parties leave to apply to the court.

Read: “Disturbing evidence” of alleged sexual abuse of children is heard behind closed doors>

About the author:

Ray Managh

Read next: