A mother failed to get a commitment from the HSE as to when her nine-year-old son, who was the subject of a six-month Care Order, would return home. The social worker said the HSE thought it was too soon to consider a phased return home, but access had been increased to twice a week.
The mother said she would like overnights. In relation to her mental health problems, she said that the main problem at the moment was not having her son. There was no mention of suicide in her psychiatrist’s report. “I realise I had serious mental health problems. I know it was dreadful. I feel it would be better all round to gradually reintroduce [my son] home.”
“Our ultimate goal is for the boy to go home,” the social worker said. “He knows that. To move from supervised access to that is too soon. He understands that. It has all been explained to him. He knows now he’s going to see his mum unsupervised.”
The mother’s solicitor said the mother felt it was progressing very slowly. “How high is the bar?”
“We’re prepared to discuss that,” the social worker replied. “We don’t want him to be moved home too quickly if he has to be moved again. He also has access to his mother’s father who lives [in another country] and who comes to Ireland quite often to see him. He has a very good relationship with his grandfather and we were happy for him to go to access with him over Christmas.”
Following a discussion of certain incidents with the mother, the judge said: “A child needs to feel safe. You attempted suicide twice.”
The mother acknowledged this, but said the first time she had had a very bad reaction to medication she was on. On the other occasion she felt she could never be a good mother to her son and entered water, but realised when in the water she could never leave him.
“I think we should see how unsupervised access goes for three months,” the judge said. “I see no reason to change the order. I urge you not to impose your fears, your worries, your obsessions, on your little boy and ruin access for him. I see he’s very active. How is he academically?”
The mother said he was second in his class in an aptitude test. “Can you tell me when he might come home?”
“I can’t,” replied the judge. “You have three months to sort it out. In three months you’ll be back to me. I really wish you well.”