Judge appoints solicitor to unaccompanied minor – 2023vol1#40

A judge in a provincial town granted an interim care order for an unaccompanied minor, and appointed a solicitor to represent him. The judge heavily criticised the Child and Family Agency (CFA) for an unjustifiable delay in bringing the application.

A social worker gave evidence that the minor, a boy, had become known to the CFA in June of 2022. The social worker said the CFA were satisfied of the minor’s age and identity. She said he had arrived in the State in the summer of 2022 from Africa.

The judge said: “How long has he been in the care of the CFA?”

The social replied: “Since his arrival last summer.”

The judge: “What has taken you so long to make this application?”

The social worker said there had been no allocated social worker to his case until it had been allocated to her a few weeks ago. She said that she had made all the necessary inquiries and was satisfied that the minor was unaccompanied in the State. She then initiated the interim care order to formalise his care. He had been placed with a foster family and had been doing exceptionally well. He had been enrolled and had attended school.

The judge said it was quite unacceptable that there had been such a delay. The social worker confirmed that the boy’s English had significantly improved but she had used an interpreter to explain the application to him. She thought that he had a good understanding of his position. The judge said that given his age he would be able to give instructions to a solicitor to represent him in these proceedings and appointed a solicitor to him.

The judge granted the interim care order for 28 days.