Judge refuses to send child to family abroad amid trafficking concerns – 2018vol2#26

A judge in a rural town refused an order to send a child to her extended family in a non-EU country due to concerns about the standard of care and protection she would receive there. The young child was in the care of a close relative following the death of her mother. The child was born in Ireland and the mother was from a non-European jurisdiction.

The court heard that the relative, who had Irish citizenship and worked in a professional capacity, was not in the position to care for the child for professional reasons. There had been an agreement that the child would be cared for by the extended maternal family in the mother’s country of origin.

The CFA was seeking a direction that the CFA could travel to UK, where the mother’s embassy is placed, to pursue the granting of a passport for the child. When the judge asked about the father, the solicitor for the CFA said that the parents had been estranged for a long time and that there were questions as whether he was in fact the biological father.

Before the social worker was cross-examined, she said: “There is someone in the court, Judge” pointing out to the reporter from the CCLRP. The judge answered “I know. She has my permission. It is necessary”.

The social worker said that she supported the child being reunited with the extended maternal family in their jurisdiction. The judge was concerned that once the child would travel, the CFA would not be in the position to oversee the standard of care and that the case “would fall through the cracks”. The judge said that reassurance was needed that the child would not be trafficked.

The social worker confirmed that once the child would be placed in the care of the extended maternal family the CFA would no longer be responsible. She said that the relative in Ireland would keep in contact and could provide updates regarding how the child was doing. The court heard that this relative would travel with the child.

The social worker said that email and letter correspondence was sent to the relevant embassy in order to arrange the child’s passport but that there has been no response. The court heard that a direction that the CFA should go to the embassy in UK would be useful. The judge said: “My concern is that, if you have difficulty contacting the embassy, imagine if she is repatriated”. The judge noted that the child was entitled to Irish citizenship.

The solicitor for the GAL told the court that she supported the CFA proposal.

The judge extended the interim care order and directed the CFA to travel to UK to pursue the granting of the child’s passport. The judge did not make an order to return the child to the extended family due to concerns regarding what would happen to the child in the relevant country and the different standard of care.