Interim care order for two children granted under Brussels IIb, children arrived in Ireland with adults who were detained – 2023vol2#6

A judge in the Dublin District Court granted interim care orders for two children who had arrived in Ireland on a flight from a southern EU country with two adults who were detained on arrival. The children, originally from Africa, had travelled to Ireland using passports issued by another EU country, a northern EU jurisdiction. The court was told that given the issues at point of entry, the Gardaí thought it necessary to invoke their powers under section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991. The court heard that an emergency care order had been granted the previous week.

The court was told that the female adult travelling with them was not the children’s mother and that her identification did not match the travel documents she was travelling with. The male adult was detained by border control, in conjunction with the Gardaí, on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry into Ireland.

The solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) told the judge that due to issues at point of entry into Ireland he was not in a position to join the other adults as parties to the proceedings until such time as a DNA test was done on both of the adults to establish their relationship with the children.

The garda who had invoked section 12 was present in court and gave evidence. He said that four individuals arrived into Ireland on a flight from an EU country. The adult male was travelling on a non-EEA passport. The garda said the female adult was not the person in her passport and he was also of the opinion that she was not the children’s mother. The adult male was stopped and arrested for facilitating illegal entry and he was in custody. On the basis that there were issues in relation to both adults, the Gardaí had invoked their emergency powers under section 12.

The garda said the woman had since made an application for international protection under a different name than was on the passport she was travelling with. She was interviewed by Gardaí and told them that she was the children’s mother. The court was told that she was now living in direct provision accommodation in the south of the country.

The court heard that there was no evidence currently that either of the adults were the children’s parents. The children are African by birth but were travelling on EU passports. Both the children and the male adult were travelling on their own passports. The passport the woman was travelling with was a valid passport but was not hers.

Bail had been set for the man at €3,000 cash with a number of conditions, but the man was still in custody.

The social worker was called to give evidence and he confirmed that he had been the social worker allocated since the children had come into care the previous week. The children were in care on the basis that there were no adult in the jurisdiction to provide care to them.

The social worker was asked to update the court on any issues encountered since the children came into care. He said that there had been notifications to the relevant EU embassy, and he had been put in touch with social services in that jurisdiction. He said that the children’s passports appeared to be genuine and valid but there was no record of the man who claimed to be their father.

From what the social worker had learned so far, it would appear that the children had been residing in the northern EU country with their mother for a period of seven years and they had not previously come to the attention of social services. The children were attending school in that EU country and the mother was working and renting an apartment. There were conflicting stories as to whether the children were coming to Ireland for a week on holidays or whether they had plans to come and live here. He said that the authorities in the other EU country could not yet confirm the status of the passport of the female adult. He said he was liaising with the relevant embassy here and also with the social work team in the EU country.

The female adult had had no documentation and no valid identification with her. He said that the only way that the adult male and female could be identified would be by way of DNA tests which needed to be done quickly. The children had mentioned a cousin who was to meet them at the airport but they could only provide a first name.

The social worker told the court that this cousin and the adult woman had shown up at the children’s foster placement over the weekend. It was assumed that the address of the foster carer had been notified to these people by the children who were in possession of phones and tablets.

The social worker said that no reunification could take place right now because they did not know who the parents were. The court was told that it could take 10 days for a DNA test to be done and that there was a need to further liaise with the social work department in the other EU country.

The judge asked how the children were. The social worker said that after the initial shock of what had happened at the airport that they had settled in well and that their foster carer was sympathetic to the situation.

The solicitor for the CFA indicated to the court that he was seeking an interim care order for a period of 28 days. He also requested that a guardian ad litem (GAL) be appointed for the children under section 26.

The judge said on hearing the social worker’s evidence and on the evidence from the garda who had invoked section 12, and having read the affidavits and the reports, he was satisfied to grant an interim care order (ICO) for a period of 28 days. He said that the DNA testing needed to be carried out promptly and that the engagement with the foreign authorities needed to continue.

He also said that following a request from the CFA solicitor, the granting of the ICO would be made under Article 20 of Brussels IIb on an emergency basis. He was also asked to make an order under section 47 to allow the social worker to consent to the DNA testing to be done. He appointed a GAL and made the order under section 47 and adjourned the extension of the ICO to the end of the month.