Introduction 2021 Vol 2

We publish below 30 reports of cases attended by the CCLRP, mainly in the second half of 2021. Some of the cases are ongoing, others have come to a conclusion.

As usual, addiction, mental health issues and domestic violence among parents combine to make parents vulnerable and unable to provide adequate care for their children. In addition, substance misuse among older children was a concern in the High Court special care proceedings.

The mental health difficulties being experienced by children is illustrated in a couple of cases, including those of two young girls involuntarily detained due to self-harming behaviour and anorexia nervosa, and cases where children in care needed mental health services to support them to deal with childhood traumas which had led to their care admissions.

The reports also reveal a dearth of residential placements for children who are presenting with complex needs including mental health issues, disabilities and addictions, including step-down placements for children leaving special care. In two separate District Court cases of teenage boys with complex needs their placements broke down due to property damage and assaults on staff, for which the boys concerned are facing criminal charges and the CFA is struggling to find new and appropriate placements that can meet their needs.

A significant number of cases in this volume, six of the 30 cases, concern separated children, many of whom had experienced significant trauma in their home countries and on their journey to Ireland. Two had spent time in refugee camps, one had fled the Taliban and another had fled an arranged marriage to a member of an Islamic militant group. Efforts were made to reunify these children with their families, however this can be complicated by safety concerns and a lack of information on their whereabouts, leading to stress and anxiety for the children.

The volume also contains a special report with a summary of the weekly ‘call over’ list of matters for hearing held in the Dublin Metropolitan District during a ten-week period in late 2021. This report on the 739 matters listed is a snapshot of the scale and complexity of child care cases coming before the courts in the capital and adds further weight to the mounting evidence for the urgent establishment of a dedicated national Family Court.