Interim care order extended in respect of an unaccompanied non-national teenager, racial abuse alleged – 2023vol1#42


The Dublin District Court extended an interim order (ICO) in respect of an adolescent who had travelled to Ireland on his own from an African country.

The lawyer for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) told the court that nothing had changed since the initial interim care order had been made. The teenager was in a long-term residential placement. He was availing of extra English language tuition but was not yet ready to enter mainstream school. He was still waiting to be allocated a social worker. She said that the guardian ad litem (GAL) had suggested to the CFA that he be given a laptop, but that the boy had not mentioned this to the CFA himself. However, she noted that the CFA was willing to provide the laptop to him.

The judge was concerned that the GAL’s report stated that the teenager had been subjected to racial abuse. The CFA’s lawyer said that she believed the abuse arose in the context of a number of protests in the area where the boy was in placement, but that the CFA had not been aware of any racial abuse directed against him. The judge noted that the GAL’s report said that the Gardaí had been called. The CFA’s lawyer said that she understood that the abuse did not occur to the teenager himself, but rather to another individual in the facility. She went on to say that the Gardaí had met with the residents in the house to advise them about taking appropriate safety measures such as the need to go out in groups etc.

The GAL’s report also stated that the teenager needed to see a dentist and the CFA’s lawyer confirmed that the CFA had no difficulty with that and that it would follow up in ensuring that a dental appointment was scheduled.

The CFA’s lawyer told the court that the CFA was proceeding with the application to extend the interim care order on the basis of affidavit evidence. She then called on the GAL to give evidence to the court.

The GAL told the court that the young boy was in a placement in a house with a number of other young children. She said that he had some English but needed an interpreter. She said that the child understood that court was going to make decisions about his care.

The boy liked the placement. She said that the carers at the placement were very experienced in dealing with unaccompanied minors, many of whom had had very difficult journeys and backgrounds.

She said that usually the best possible approach was foster care, but that the youth had told her that he liked living with the other children at the placement and he did not want to go into foster care. She confirmed to the court that the placement was appropriate for him.

The GAL said that sometimes the boy does not feel great and she asked him about engaging in further therapeutic supports. He said he would think about it. She said that he got on very well with the social workers and key workers. The GAL said she would explore this with him further in the future.

Apart from needing some dental work, the GAL said that she did not know of any other medical needs. She said that the boy didn’t like going to the dentist, but that this was no different from anybody else. She told the court that the boy asked her for a laptop as, while there was a common computer at his placement, it was often busy. He had not, at that time, talked to the social worker about this.

The GAL said that the youth was attending some educational courses. He would be woken by staff, but often he would fall back into a deep sleep and he would be late as a result. However, the boy said that he liked Ireland.

The GAL confirmed that it had not been the boy himself that had been racially abused. She said that the key worker had mentioned to her that immigrants were being targeted and that the Gardaí had called around to talk to the residents about safety issues.

The GAL noted that a full care order hearing had been set and that she was in agreement with this. She said that there was a need to start work on aftercare issues. The GAL was satisfied with the placement and did not have any further recommendations for improvement.

The judge said that she was satisfied to make the order to extend the interim care order for a further four weeks. She commented that it was very upsetting that this youth was still enduring racial abuse. She adjourned the care order application for four weeks also.