Mother’s consent dispensed with to allow child go on holiday with foster parents; mother told to take down social media posts – 2024vol1#51

On foot of applications from the Child and Family Agency (CFA), an interim care order was extended for a primary school aged boy, and the mother’s consent for him to go on holiday with his foster parents was dispensed with. The mother was present in court and was contesting both applications. The guardian ad litem (GAL) was supporting them.

Social worker evidence

The social worker said that the child was doing well in his placement and at school. She said the threshold was still met. She said she had tried to meet with the mother and her network on a number of occasions to discuss the plan but that had not been possible. The social worker said she was concerned about the mother’s presentation and her mental health. The mother had driven by the school on a number of occasions and the social worker had worked with the school on a safety plan for the child due to the incidents.

The child was doing well in school and he was involved in a lot of activities. He knew about the planned holiday and he was looking forward to going away and being able to go swimming. The foster carers did not want to go on the holiday without him. The child had told her he would be very annoyed and upset if he was not allowed to go.

The social worker said the child’s mother had been posting up a lot of information on social media regarding the care proceedings and claimed the foster carers were abusing the child and depriving him of air and food. The social worker had asked the mother to take down the posts and she had not. It was very upsetting for the foster carers. The foster carers had sought a domestic violence order from the court but had not been successful. They had also been in contact with the gardaí. The communications department within the CFA were attempting to get the posts taken down but she said that took time.

The GAL solicitor said the child had asked that the GAL did not visit him as he associated her visits with her wanting him to have access with his mother. The meetings between the child and the GAL had only just recommenced.

The social worker said that there was no evidence of any of the allegations the mother had made, the social worker had visited frequently and the child was presenting well. She had asked the child a number of times about contact with his mother and he did not want any contact.

Mother’s evidence

The mother gave evidence. She had her phone with her in the witness box and the judge asked her if the phone was turned off and she said it was.

Her solicitor asked her why she was contesting the applications and she said that the court was corrupt and it was appalling the lies of the social worker over the last eight months. She said she had driven by the school playground, the child was dehydrated, he had dark circles under his eyes and he had no colour in his face. She said they both cried when they saw each other. She was adamant he was being deprived of food and air and that he had been taken from a loving home, and should be back with his mother. She said the social worker said he was scared and he should not be scared. She said he was being deprived of air by a dehumidifier.

She said her child had been kidnapped by family members who had bullied her mother at her mother’s house and taken the child. She said her son needed to be at home and needed to be out of his current environment as soon as possible.

The judge asked her if she was getting any support herself. She said she was linking in with the mental health doctors but that there was nothing wrong with her mental health.

The solicitor for the GAL said that two assessments were ongoing and the assessor conducting the parenting capacity assessment should have the most up-to-date reports. The court lifted the in camera rule to allow the assessor to be provided with up-to-date information.

Judge’s decision

The judge said the welfare of the child was paramount and was front and central in all of the decisions made by the court. There was no evidence, bar the mother’s say so, that there were any welfare concerns for the child and in fact all the evidence of the professionals was to the contrary. He said the report was that the child was doing well at school.

He granted the order dispensing with the mother’s consent to allow the child to go on the holiday out of the jurisdiction with his foster carers. He advised the mother that if she had posted information that it needed to be taken down and any posts deleted, it would be a breach of the in camera rule if information was published. He said these were in camera proceedings and information in the courts was not to be discussed or broadcast outside. The CFA could bring an application to the court in respect of publication on social media.