A District Court in a provincial town heard that a mother, in respect of whose two children a care order had been made, was in a relationship with a man from a non-EU state, who was contacting the CFA in relation to her children despite never having met them.
A twelve-month care order had been granted in respect of the two children in 2018, at which time the court directed that certain assessments take place as recommended by a previously-furnished report of the guardian ad litem. The matter had been listed for review to see how things were going, but no new order was being sought at this point.
The father, also a non-EU national, was present in court together with his solicitor. A solicitor had also come on record for the mother, who was of Irish nationality.
A social worker gave evidence in relation to the assessments. A psychologist had been meeting with the children and the parents and carrying out tests. Once the assessments were completed, it would be decided if it was appropriate for access to take place or whether this would be traumatising for the children. It was a possibility but not a certainty that access would be refused.
The judge noted that it was a serious matter. He was aware of the vulnerability of the mother, where she lived and her background. He stated that if any significant matter like the refusal of access was to be recommended, he would need to hear about it. The judge added that he could not decide the question of access until he had the results of the assessments, and that the body responsible for carrying out the assessments would have to be open to being questioned.
The social worker stated that directions had been given for the exchange of photographs, and that access had been directed to take place at Christmas. Christmas access had taken place, but the children were very reluctant to attend. The GAL’s report had been shown to both parents, which highlighted the children’s opposition to access.
The social worker stated that the mother now appeared to be in a relationship with a man from a non-EU state, who was living in his home country. The social services had asked the mother not to name her new partner as the children’s father on their Christmas presents. However, the mother had done so anyway. In addition, she had told the children that she was pregnant and that they would soon have a new sibling, which caused them a lot of confusion.
The judge noted that a peculiar situation had arisen whereby the social worker had been contacted on FaceTime and invited to have a discussion with the mother’s new partner, who was anxious to come to Ireland. This man had been asking the social worker what would happen with the woman’s children, whom he had never met. The judge noted that the father’s solicitor might have concerns about that.
The father’s solicitor told the court that his client participated very fully with access. He stated that access went well at Christmas and there were presents for the children.
The mother’s solicitor confirmed that she was pregnant and that the father was a national of a state far from Europe. The mother had travelled to the man’s home country to meet him in person.
The social worker stated that the mother’s new partner had contacted social services and had been highly abusive on the telephone. Evidence had previously been given that he had been inappropriately intervening when the children were with their mother. The judge stated that he remembered this evidence and expressed his concern that the mother’s new partner was in contact with social services in respect of children who were not his. He said that this was not helping the mother.
The social worker said that the children were scheduled to see each parent on alternate Mondays. However, this access had not been happening. The children were reluctant to attend.
The social worker added that, while he had some concerns in relation to the father, he found him cooperative and quite good for the most part at access. He stated that decisions on access would be made once the results of the assessments were available. The father’s solicitor stated that his client did not just want access, but wanted to care for the children. The judge said that there was nothing to prevent the father’s solicitor writing to the CFA indicating his intentions.
The matter was adjourned for a short period, by which time it was hoped the results of the assessments would be available.