Child Care project tells of hellish abusive lives suffered by youngsters
Substance abuse, cognitive impairment of parents and intercultural difficulties are among a new raft of childcare breaches published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).
The project has today published 30 new case studies in the second volume of its 2015 reports on childcare proceedings.
One of the most graphic incidents highlighted by the group reported on a girl who ran away from her abusive home to live with her grandfather.
In a heartbreaking letter, the young girl wrote to a judge asking him not to send her back to live with her mother.
"My wishes are not to go home," she wrote, "but I'm afraid my brother will be picked on. He didn't get hit on as much as me when I lived at home."
In the letter, the little girl would go on to describe the hellish ordeal she suffered while at home.
"She wasn't waking up in the day and I had to take my brother to school," she continued.
"She gets drunk, screaming, having parties when me and my brother are in bed.
"I'm worried you won't believe me and send me home to my Mam. It was sore when she hit me."
Another striking theme prevalent in this volume is the number of cases featuring parents with cognitive disabilities.
In some of these cases evidence showed that the parent in question lacked the necessary basic skills to care for themselves, let alone a child.
The report also highlights the plight of a teenage girl from a Muslim family whose parents have left the country with her siblings.
The girl sought the protection of the State from her father, following an assault.
Her father had beaten her, claiming she had "brought shame to the family" and her mother was unable to protect her.
The court heard the girl was "brave and resilient" and had a good relationship with her foster parents with whom she now remains.
This volume also shows that the courts do not always grant the applications brought by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) and also scrutinise its procedures.
In one such case, the CFA had sought a care order for a child whose father had been convicted of a sexual crime 23 years earlier when he was a teenager.
He had not offended since, and, because of the conviction, a supervision order was in place.
This included a provision that he did not live with the mother and child and only had supervised access to the young child.
The court ruled that the supervision order should continue, with the father attending a course for sex offenders.
The judge commented: "A man who sinned in the past when he was a youth, how long does he have to be penalised for?"
Speaking to the Irish Independent, CCLRP director Dr Carol Coulter said the latest report was evidence that further support was needed to help vulnerable young children.
"It is clear that there is a great need to support families in crisis, particularly when one or other parent is suffering from mental illness, has a cognitive disability, or suffers from an addiction," she said.
"I hope that the growth in knowledge of the condition in which some children are forced to live will encourage the Government to provide resources necessary to protect them."