Infant placed in State care following incident in Limerick village

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Infant placed in State care following incident in Limerick village

TUSLA was granted an emergency care order

A THREE month baby boy has been placed in the care of the State after gardai removed the infant from his parents amid concerns for his safety and wellbeing.

The child, who was born in January, was taken to University Hospital Limerick on Wednesday night after gardai from four different garda stations attended a hostile disturbance in a village in County Limerick.

Sgt Gearoid Thompson told Limerick District Court gardai initially responded to reports of two people “driving under the influence with a child in the rear seat”.

He said several arguments had erupted between and that a large number of people had gathered at the scene when he and several colleagues arrived. 

“It was a very fractious and high tensioned environment,” he said.

Sgt Thompson told the court that having spoken to the infant’s parents, he believed they were “extremely intoxicated”. 

He said they were argumentative and unreasonable and that they were behaving in an irrational manner. He added that there was a smell of cannabis emanating from them.

Judge Marian O’Leary was told that given what had unfolded gardai became concerned for the safety of the child but that efforts to ensure he was cared for by relatives of his parents on the night proved unsuccessful.

Sgt Thompson said he subsequently invoked Section 12 of the Childcare Act and removed the baby from his parents.

The baby’s mother, who has two other children, was arrested and detained at a garda station in County Limerick where she “slept for the night” before being released shortly after 7am yesterday.

Senior Social Worker, Una Kissane, told the court she became aware of the situation after she picked up a voicemail which had been left on her phone by Sgt Thompson in the early hours of Thursday morning.

She said she believes the child’s mother is a chronic alcoholic and she told the court that TUSLA first became involved last November when the mother presented at a pre-natal examination with ”serious levels of alcohol” in her system.

While the Child and Family Agency has been working with the family since the baby was born, Judge Marian O’Leary was told the various care plans have not worked out and that there is an “immediate and serious risk” to his safety, 

Ms Kissane said TUSLA has made two separate applications for an interim care order over the past fortnight on foot of a number of anonymous complaints relating to the drinking of the child’s parents.

However, the applications were refused as the presiding judge was of the view the evidence presented in court was not sufficient.

Yesterday, the baby’s mother insisted she was not drunk on Wednesday night and she told the court her baby is thriving and well cared for.

She accepted she has a drink problem and had “slipped” on Wednesday night when she drank two glasses of wine. “I don’t accept I was highly intoxicated,” she said.

Solicitor Muiris Gavin, representing TUSLA, rejected her assertion and put it to the woman that she has “chronic difficulties with alcohol” and is not capable of caring for her son until she addresses her addiction problems.

Granting an Emergency Care Order, Judge O’Leary said having heard the evidence, she was “satisfied, as a fact” that there was an “immediate and serious risk” to the safety of the infant.

The order remains in place until the end of next week.