A JUDGE has ordered that three young children who are alleged to have been stripped and flogged by their father will remain in State care for a further year.
At the family law court in Ennis, Judge Mary Larkin extended the Interim Care Order (ICO) for the three children to October 2022 after a TUSLA social worker told the judge that the welfare and health of the children would be put at adverse risk if the court didn’t grant the order.
The social worker told Judge Larkin that a Garda file concerning the allegations against the father is currently with the DPP.
As part of a Garda investigation, the children were interviewed by specialist Garda interviewers. The children were removed from the care of their parents in September 2020 and have been cared for by foster carers on behalf of TUSLA since.
Judge Larkin first granted the ICO last September after hearing that the couple’s son told a Childcare Support Co-Ordinator “my Dad flogs me with a wire and I have to take my trousers off and it still hurts”.
In July 2020, the mother of the three children gave sworn evidence in court of the flogging and stripping where she secured a court Protection Order against her husband.
However, the woman shortly after reversed her position and stated that what she told the court and what the children told social workers concerning the alleged physical abuse by her husband “is all lies”.
After extending the ICO for one further year, Judge Larkin asked that the court be updated concerning the status of the case by the Gardai or the DPP.
Judge Larkin said that children’s lives can become absorbed in criminal proceedings.
“The crazy thing is that children are sometimes four and five when they make a complaint and can be eight, nine and 10 by the time they give evidence.”
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The allocated TUSLA social worker to the three children told the court “there is still a very high level of denial on both parents’ parts”.
The social worker stated that a parental capacity assessment carried out on the mother by a psychologist has found that the mother “is not in a position to safely care for the children at this time and will not be in a position for as long she remains in a relationship with the father”.
The social worker stated: “I understand that they are still in a relationship but that they have recently decided to live apart.”
The social worker stated there has been domestic violence in the home and the mother “has suffered a level of trauma herself and that has to be dealt with before she can deal with the trauma that her children have experienced”.
The social worker stated that she spoke to the father two weeks ago “and he strongly denies ever hitting any of his children or punishing any of his children”.
The social worker added that the father did acknowledge that he would ask the children to hold their hands up for quite some time because as a child that was how he was disciplined.
She stated, “But there was a very strong denial of ever hitting the children or ever hitting his wife.”
The social worker stated that the father “is possibly inhibited from engaging with the social work department because of the outstanding Garda investigation”.
The social worker stated that a child in care review has been recently held “and all three children are doing very well”.
The social worker stated that the parents have one and a half hour supervised access to the three children each week.
The social worker told Judge Larkin: “All three children want to go home and live with their mum and dad.”
The social worker said that the children’s mother “is in a vulnerable position in terms of her loyalty to the father and the ongoing Garda investigation”.
The court was told that the ‘voice of the children’ in court, the Guardian Ad Litem is in favour of the extension of the ICO.
Judge Larkin signed the order to extend the ICO to October 2022 and she stated that is to be reviewed in April 2022.
by Gordon Deegan