An Interim Care Order was extended for three weeks in a rural town to allow the parents of a new-born baby obtain legal representation. Only the father was represented at this hearing, and they wanted the same solicitor to represent them both.
The parents had moved from the UK to a provincial city in Ireland prior to the birth of the baby, and had then moved to the rural town. There had been applications in both the city and the town, and the judge initially had to decide on whether he had jurisdiction.
The court heard an Emergency Care Order was granted in the city when the baby was born and was still in hospital. The father gave an address near the rural town and an Interim Care Order was then granted in that court. The judge accepted he had jurisdiction.
Reports were received from the UK about on-going neglect of the couple’s other children. Three of them were in foster care, one in a residential home and one, an older child, with the mother under a Supervision Order.
The CFA social worker said that the father in this case was not the father of the other five children. In relation to them, the issues went back to 2013, with serious neglect and allegations of physical abuse. The mother did not engage with the services available and there were concerns of domestic violence at the hands of various parties.
This had negative effects on the children’s development and the eldest child had to attend an A & E department seriously intoxicated at the age of 13. The next child developed aggressive behaviours and the third had delayed development.
The couple moved to Ireland last December and stayed with the father’s family, who lived here. Since the baby was born they had access twice a week, which was going well. The mother only started with engage with the social work department when she went into hospital to give birth.
Asked by the father’s solicitor what were the concerns in relation to this particular child, the social worker said they were missing medical appointments, the refusal to engage with services in the UK and a concern the mother was a flight risk. The social work department would be conducting an assessment and meeting the family in Ireland, she said.
The judge commented that the basis of the application appeared to be the neglect of the other children.
The father’s solicitor said that there were a number of reports they had not received. “There seems to be a dearth of information on which the application can rely. We would like the shortest possible order so that we can examine the reports,” the solicitor said.
The judge said that he thought the parents should seek separate legal representation, as the father was not involved in the historical matters in the UK and there was a possible conflict. He extended the order for three weeks, and said the mother should be encouraged to seek legal representation.