See also Archive, 2018 volume 2, case 12: “Interim care order for child where concerns about mother’s forced marriage”
An interim care order was extended in respect of a child whose mother, from an Asian country, was represented but not present. A GAL had been appointed to the mother, who had a disability, as well as the child. The GAL for the child was supporting the application.
The mother had travelled to her country of origin and her lawyers had neither contact with nor instructions from the mother.
At an earlier hearing where the interim care order was extended the court heard there were suspicions the mother was being forced into a marriage. Social workers had met with the mother following an allegation that she had been sexually assaulted. A social worker said they attempted to meet with a disability service but the mother had cancelled.
At this hearing the solicitor for the child’s GAL said the mother was two weeks late returning from her country of origin. The mother blocked the social workers on her phone and was not responding to the GAL. The GAL received a text asking, “who is this?” and there was a short series of texts which appeared not to have been sent by the mother.
The GAL rang the mother every 20 minutes and checked her flight details. She managed to make contact with the mother later that day. The solicitor for the child’s GAL said: “The GAL is the only person to speak to her and she told her she was in Ireland but no one has seen her.”
The CFA contacted the Gardaí to report the mother as a missing person but the Gardaí would not consider the mother a missing person as she left the country voluntarily. The solicitor said she sought an application to lift in camera rule from the High Court in order to send information to the Gardaí regarding the mother. She said: “[The mother] is a missing person as no one has seen her.”
The social work team leader said the GAL was told by the mother that she would not see the child for a few days as she went with her mother to see a friend in a provincial town. The team leader said: “When I tried to ring her, it went straight to voicemail.”
The judge said the threshold had been met and he extended the interim care order for a period of 28 days. He said the president of the High Court should be informed that the mother is not contactable.
At a subsequent hearing the court heard the Gardaí had tracked the mother down and the social worker had contact with her. The mother indicated she would not be attending court.
The interim care order was again extended for a period of 28 days with the care order application listed for the same date.