Saturday 14 December 2019

Teen ‘living with man in 30s’ after parents left country

Agencies get two days to find ‘proper accommodation’

Tom Tuite

A JUDGE has given child welfare agencies two days to find “proper accommodation” for a 16-year-old boy who came back to Dublin to live after his parents left the country more than a year ago.

The Irish-born youth, who is still a minor, had first appeared at the Children's Court last Thursday, where Judge John O'Connor, then presiding, had said it was “very worrying why a 16-year-old is with a 30-year-old in Dublin”.

The teen was in court following his arrest for criminal damage to security tags on a pair of runners and tracksuit bottoms worth €104 last Wednesday.

It had already emerged that he had been born in Ireland and lived here until 2012 when his family left the country to return to their homeland. His parents remain there but the boy returned to Ireland in recent months and is supported by another man, in his 30s, who also provides him with occasional work, and they are both living in a hostel.

The teenager had been granted bail and appeared again at the juvenile court again today accompanied by the man, a foreign national who did not have to give evidence other than confirm his name, that he understood English and that he had been getting work for the boy.

Shane Reynolds, solicitor for the Child & Family Agency (CFA), the state body responsible for welfare issues in relation to minors, told Judge Gibbons that on Friday last social workers asked the teenager to come to a meeting and to bring his identity documents.

After that, social workers heard nothing more, the teen's “phone is turned off and he has not been in contacts since.”

Defence solicitor Gareth Noble also said that it is possible the court prosecution could be dropped. This means gardai could handle the case through their Juvenile Liaison Office which can lead to a caution being given rather than a criminal conviction and a possible sentence.

The teenager explained to the judge that he had been born in Ireland and schooled here until 2012. He returned  in recent months and he  again maintained he has been staying with friends or in hostels.

The teen, dressed in jeans, trainers and a designer jacket, also told the court he met the man he is staying with through his religious community. Judge Gibbons adjourned the case for two days saying, “I expect the CFA to get appropriate accommodation for this chap.”

He also said the teen needed proper accommodation and he wanted a social worker assigned to the teenager and “I would like the CFA to work quickly to this effect”.

The judge also said that it is not in the power of the Children's Court, which is part of the criminal justice system, to deny bail due to welfare concerns.

As a condition of bail the boy must report to a garda station in Dublin city-centre and sign-on there and he has to co-operate with social services.

The court has also heard that information he has given about where he had lived and had gone to school before his parents left Ireland  has been verified.

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