A judge in a rural town extended interim care orders for three young children who had been in care for two years. There were two fathers. The CFA was represented by the solicitor who represents the CFA in this area and the mother, who was not present, was represented by the Legal Aid Board. However, the legal aid solicitor had not received any instructions.
The father of the two younger children, who was not present either, had been represented by another Legal Aid Board office, but it had come off record. The father of the older child, who had an intellectual disability, was not represented or present, but had engaged with social workers. The judge said he should receive every assistance to participate, including legal representation and the help of an advocate.
A guardian ad litem had been appointed to the children. While he could not be present as he was in another court, his solicitor was present and went through his report.
The social worker told the court that the parents had last been in touch with the children and the social work department in January 2018. They both suffered from drug addiction. It was understood they were now in another jurisdiction, though the GAL had managed to speak to the mother in recent days and she had indicated she was prepared to come back to Ireland, where she expected to have to serve a prison sentence.
The maternal grandfather had been very involved with the children, but he too had moved to another jurisdiction. The father of the oldest child had sent photographs and was engaging well with the social work department. The children had high levels of need, which were being met by the foster parents and appropriate services.
The solicitor for the GAL told the court the oldest child had asked the GAL to tell the judge she missed her mother. The GAL had told her that her mother was very unwell, which was why she had not been in touch. The child had not been told her mother was not in Ireland. When the GAL spoke to the mother she had asked very appropriate questions about the welfare of the children, and the GAL had encouraged her to keep in touch with them. The GAL recommended a care order application be made as soon as possible.
The judge said the threshold had been reached for an extension of the interim care order for 29 days. She was seeking a date to hear the full care order application.