Monday 24 April 2017

Parents horrified as three-year-old girl abandoned in city park

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Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A parent has described his horror after a three-year-old girl was left abandoned in a large park in Cork city at the weekend.

A man named Terry told the Neil Prendeville show on Cork's Red FM that he was at the park near the Lough in Cork City, when he noticed the young girl on her own.

"At around 4pm, I was with my fiancée and our two-year-old son at the park.

"It started raining and we noticed another family there with two boys. There was this young girl with them and we presumed she was part of the family. The parents and the two boys started to head away and left this young girl there.

"We were baffled that there was nobody else in the area. This young girl was just left on her own. She was no more than three years old," Terry told Neil Prendeville.

He said his family waited for 15 minutes in the heavy rain with the young girl but nobody showed up.

"I went around the area to see if anybody was looking for the child but there was nobody there. We asked the little girl was she local but she couldn't tell us where she was living.

"We asked where her mummy was and she said she was at home. We rang the guards and they said they'd send a car straight away. We were told to stay put so the child's parents could find her if they went looking for her.

"We were waiting in the rain and it got very wet. We were worried about the girl but we were also worried about our own child."

Terry said he waited over an hour for gardai to come.

"We didn't want to move the child. We were talking with her to keep her calm and we were getting our son to play with her. The girl didn't seem agitated or that it was out of the ordinary."

Terry said he was feeding the birds with his young son and when he offered some to the girl she "scoffed the food".

"She started eating it herself. She would have ate the hand of me if I had any more. She didn't look as though she was cared for."

When the gardai arrived, Terry said they knew who the child was instantly.

"They knew who it was and they said it wasn't the first time something like this happened. It was the third time that this child was found. The child hadn't even been reported missing. They automatically knew who the child was when they saw her. The parents were on their last warning."

Last week another caller phoned the Neil Prendeville show to say that a woman brought a child into the park and left her there.

"The guard told me that there are no more warnings now for the parents and that the child would be taken into custody," Terry said.

"We were worrying about the child all night. With the weather on Saturday we were thinking about what would have happened to the child if we hadn't looked after her.

"The guards took the child into custody and waited until 9pm to notify the parents that they had the child. At that stage the parents still hadn't reported the child as missing. She could have been in the park until after 9pm that night. God knows how long she was at the park before 4pm.

"The guards were waiting to see if the parents were looking for her."

Terry said that when the guards notified the parents that the child was taken into custody, the little girl had a jack russell dog.

"The parents turned around to the guards and said are you going to take the dog as well with ye? That's all they were worried about.

"They didn't ask about the child at all.

"The child is in foster care as far as I know. I'm just glad she's being taken care of."

Gardai confirmed to Independent.ie that relevant services were contacted in relation to the case.

"We can confirm that a child was discovered in the playground close to the Lough in Cork City at approximately 5pm on the 25th February. The child was uninjured and the relevant services were contacted."

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