Care order for girl who left African country to avoid marriage with older man- 2022vol2#31

The District Court made an interim care order for an unaccompanied minor who arrived in Ireland from an African country.

The court heard that the girl left her country after her father died and her paternal uncle wanted to arrange her marriage to a much older man. The girl’s mother and her maternal uncle did not support the marriage and they arranged for her to travel to safety. The girl was placed in emergency accommodation after she applied for asylum at Dublin airport. The process for international protection for the girl had started and a solicitor had been retained.

The girl had attended an educational training board unit for migrant children for language and maths, but she was now in mainstream school. She was a practising Muslim and followed a halal diet which was being accommodated, and a prayer mat was being sourced. The court was told that the girl has regular contact with her mother via WhatsApp.

Judge: “Does the mother know about this application? Should she be served?”

Social Worker: “I appreciate that judge. I have not had direct contact with her.”

Judge: “The court would like to know that the mother knows what is going on. The court is anxious that the mother be made aware of what is occurring.”

CFA: “We normally do this ex-parte.”

Social Worker: “We are not allowed to send documents via WhatsApp. I have made attempts to make contact with her mom and perhaps I should arrange a time to be with the minor when she is speaking with her mother.”

The judge directed that the social worker contact the girl’s mother at the earliest opportunity. He noted that the child arrived in Ireland for protection from an uncle trying to get her married against her will at the age of 16. The court appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL), made an interim care order and adjourned the care order application.