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Romanian girl (17) tells Children’s Court she has to beg to feed her baby

A 17-year-old Romanian girl, who has been living in Ireland without her parents, has claimed that she had to beg to feed herself and her baby.

The teenage mother-of-one has been in Ireland for almost six months while her own parents are still in Romania, the Dublin Children's Court has been told.

The girl, who is residing with extended family members in Dublin, pleaded guilty yesterday (FRI) to obstructing members of the public while begging, at Johnson's Court, on April 11 last, on March 5 and also on a date in December.

Judge Eugene O'Kelly said today that it was an aggravating factor that she was again arrested for begging on May 11 last, just 45 minutes after she was last before the court.

The teenager also pleaded guilty to that charge and the court heard that health service workers had visited the girl's home and concluded that there were no child protection concerns for her.

Solicitor Ellen Chesser, for the HSE, said it had been found that the property was clean and warm, other family members lived there and the teen's baby was being well looked after. Ms Chesser said the assessments would be on-going and a social worker's report could be furnished to the court.

Efforts are being made to contact the teen's parents in Romania, the judge also heard.

When the judge asked if the girl's begging was part of a “little commercial enterprise”, defence solicitor Gareth Noble said the teen and her family did not live lavishly. The girl had previously told the court that she had come to Ireland to claim social welfare but found that she had no choice but to beg, “to eat”.

Mr Noble said that the girl would not be entitled to State benefits until she has been in Ireland for two years. He said that it was hoped that the HSE could help to her so she would not have to beg.

Judge O'Kelly asked for a pre-sentence probation report and social worker's report to be prepared. He adjourned sentencing and remanded the teenager on continuing bail to appear again next month for sentencing.