Emergency care order for children in direct provision centre – 2013vol1#19

An emergency care order was granted for two young children whose mother was involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act following her removal from a direct provision centre for asylum seekers.

A garda gave evidence of being called to the centre by the manager, who said a woman was being aggressive to other residents and staff members. The garda went to the woman’s room with a staff member.

There was a baby in the room, which was very messy. The child was crying and half dressed. The woman said the child was sick and she had given her African remedies. She said she had seen a doctor the previous week, who said the child was all right. The garda was told of incidents where she had threatened other residents with a bread-knife while the child was strapped to her back. She (the garda) considered the woman was not in a position to care for herself or the child.

The manager of the centre said the woman had been there for about six months. She was “always somewhat manic”. The previous day she had been quite aggressive, with the baby on her back and a three year old with her, who was about to go to the on-site crèche. She used to come down at night and harass the other residents.

Asked by the solicitor for the HSE if he was aware if the woman was undergoing any mental health treatment, he said he thought she was on medication for bi-polar disorder, but had stopped taking it when pregnant.

The social worker said the mother had been involved with the family support services. The team had no details about the children’s father. Asked by the judge what enquiries she had made, she said the woman did not want to discuss the matter.

The judge said he was satisfied an ex parte application could be made, given the urgency of the matter and the mother’s detention under the Mental Health Act. He said he was also satisfied there was reasonable cause to believe there was a risk to the health and welfare of the children if they were not removed, and he granted the emergency care order.

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