CFA must exercise child’s “right to be forgotten” – 2018vol1#22

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) sought an extension to an Interim Care Order (ICO) on consent for a young teenager living in a residential care unit. Granting the extension, the judge instructed the CFA to ensure that the child’s “right to be forgotten” was exercised and to closely supervise the child following a suspected self-harming incident.

During an application for the extension of an ICO, the solicitor for the guardian ad litem(GAL) told the judge that information about the child continued to be available in search engines because the child had previously been reported missing from her residential care unit and the Gardaí had initiated the relevant protocol. The solicitor for the GAL said that it was important that this information was permanently removed.

The judge agreed and said that in Google v. Spainthe European Court of Justice ruled that individuals have the “rightto be forgotten” or the right to request personal information to be removed from the Internet provided that the information is no longer relevant. The judge said that the child’s “right to be forgotten” should be exercised and instructed the CFA to make sure that personal information about the child was permanently removed from the Internet before the next court hearing.

The GAL told the court that the child wanted to return home to the care of her mother with whom she had been spending more time. The GAL said that the position remained that the child did not want to see her father since they had been estranged. The GAL informed the court that some progress had been made as the child continued to engage in a youth drug and alcohol service and had started a child psychology course in a summer school, which she was using to reflect on herself.

The judge noted that the child was “a very clever girl” and asked for an update regarding her use of cannabis.  The GAL told the judge that the use of cannabis was not as high a concern as it was when she was reported missing and that the situation had stabilised to some extent because she was attending all her scheduled medical appointments.

The judge asked the GAL if she was in support of the ICO extension application. The GAL responded that she was and added that the child’s mother had worked very well with the GAL and staff at the residential care unit. She told the court that the mother had spotted some scratches on her daughter’s arms that could be the result of self-harming. The judge asked what was being done about this finding. The GAL responded that the child had continued to attend all her medical appointments.

The judge said that the possibility that the child had self-harmed in the last month was a cause of some dismay and that it required immediate attention. The solicitor for the CFA explained that the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) had offered an appointment immediately. The judge instructed that a professional should discuss the issue with the child and said she needed to receive regular therapy.

The judge complimented the mother for her ongoing involvement and for communicating her concerns, which had led to identifying the suspected self-harming incident. The judge said that the court was also impressed with the father, who continued to be present in court while at the same time giving the necessary space to his daughter. Extending the ICO the judge instructed the CFA to: “keep a vigilant eye on her and refer her immediately if any concern arises.”