Saturday 17 March 2018

HSE must put 'distressed' girl found on street in secure facility, court told

Tim Healy

THE legal guardian of a teenage girl found abandoned in Dublin city centre is challenging the HSE's plan to place her in a non-secure care facility.

The High Court was told that the girl, believed to be the victim of child trafficking, needs to be placed in a secure facility.

The girl, believed to be aged around 14 and from Eastern Europe, was found abandoned outside the GPO on O'Connell Street by gardai earlier this month.

She was carrying no identification and was unable to speak to officers when discovered.

Gardai then contacted the HSE, which arranged that she be taken into care. She is currently receiving treatment at a Dublin hospital.

Yesterday Felix McEnroy, on behalf of the person appointed by the court to represent the child's interests, known as the 'guardian ad litem', said the girl had been found in "very distressed circumstances".

She has been in hospital since she was found. However, counsel said, her stay there is about to come to an end. Under a HSE plan, she is to be moved from hospital and placed in a non-secure facility in a rural area.

Counsel said it was the guardian's case that this plan was not acceptable.

The girl, given her needs, must be placed at a secure facility. Legislation governing child trafficking, which is one of the most regulated areas of European law, requires that she be provided with a secure placement, counsel said.

In judicial review proceedings against the HSE, Ireland and the attorney general, the guardian is seeking orders including that the decision to provide her with a non-secure placement be quashed.

Permission to bring the action was granted on an ex-parte basis (one side only represented) by Mr Justice George Bermingham. The matter comes back before the court today.

Irish Independent

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