Tuesday 20 August 2019

Psychiatric hospital place found for vulnerable man with an intellectual disability who was detained in garda station

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain

A judge has continued orders permitting the detention of a vulnerable intellectually disabled man, who is not mentally ill, in a hospital psychiatric ward while the HSE finalises plans for a more appropriate placement.

The man was detained overnight in a garda station last Monday because no place was available in a public or private health care facility and his welfare and safety was deemed to be at risk if he was not in a secure place.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said it was "reprehensible" he had no option but to order detention in a Garda station in the absence of any alternative and described the state of the health services, especially the psychiatric services, as “lamentable”.

When a bed became available in a psychiatric ward on Tuesday, the man was moved there but a consultant psychiatrist expressed concern his remaining there for any length of time would be detrimental.

Mr Justice Kelly agreed the psychiatric ward option was “sub optimal” but said it was a better option than a garda station.

Because the man is a ward of court and his intellectual disability rendered him vulnerable in the past to people who preyed on him to his personal and financial detriment after he absconded a number of times from a care facility, he needed a secure placement, the judge said.

The facility that had accommodated him for some time is no longer willing to do so for reasons including his absconding and other behaviours, including a recent incident where he had attempted to set fire to his computer. 

When the case returned before the judge on Thursday, David Leahy BL, for the HSE, said the man is calm and has settled in the ward but does not understand why he should be there or the operation of wardship system.

Counsel said funding is available for an appropriate placement and a facility has been identified but, because various assessments and reports had to be completed, he wanted the matter adjourned.

The judge continued the orders to November 24 to allow the HSE secure a placement and recommended the HSE consult with the man's family and with the organisation which had looked after him.

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