Tusla quizzed over plan to return kids to 'abusive' parents
Published 09/09/2016 | 02:30
The foster parents of two children allegedly abused by their father and mother have taken a High Court case questioning a decision by the child and family agency which paved the way for them to be returned to the family.
The court heard claims Tusla management decided to abandon legal proceedings aimed at taking a boy aged nine and a girl aged six into care because it was "too toxic and was costing too much". This has been disputed by Tusla, but the full reasons for the U-turn have yet to be disclosed.
Ms Justice Marie Baker heard that earlier this year Tusla made a district court application for a full care order for the children, but withdrew the application on the 29th day of the hearing.
Up to that point, the agency had vehemently opposed the return of the children to their parents on the grounds they would be at risk of abuse.
But just a few months later it emerged the agency had agreed to the return of the children to their parents for an initial three-month period, beginning on August 23.
But the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, temporarily restrained the children from being reunited with their parents on August 18 after hearing "disturbing evidence" about alleged sexual abuse and brutal treatment.
He returned the case to Ms Justice Baker for a full hearing which began yesterday.
Rosario Boyle SC, for the foster parents, asked Ms Justice Baker to direct an inquiry into whether the children should become wards of court.
She said the brother and sister were first taken into foster care in 2012 over concerns about substance abuse by their parents, mental health issues and neglect. The children displayed highly sexualised behaviour, the barrister said.
Some 18 months later the children were returned to the parents under a supervision order, which meant Tusla could visit the home regularly.
However, in 2014, two elder siblings, boys aged 12 and 13, who were in the care of another foster family, made allegations they had been sexually abused by the parents.
The eldest boy also claimed there had been sexual abuse of the two youngest siblings. His allegations also extended to other family members.
As a result, the youngest boy and girl were returned to their foster carers.
Yesterday, Ms Justice Baker continued the existing temporary order blocking their return to their parents. She also made orders restricting the publication of material that could identify the children, their relatives or their foster parents.
The case has been adjourned to next Thursday when counsel for Tusla is expected to outline the agency's position.