Friday 24 November 2017

Gardai to release photo of unidentified girl

Teen was found in distressed state

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE High Court has granted the Gardai permission to release information about a teenage girl who they have been unable to identify.

The girl, believed to be in her mid teens has been in the care of the Heath Services Executive for several weeks, after being found in a distressed state by the Gardai in Dublin.

On Friday afternoon Mr Justice George Birmingham granted the Gardai an order under Section 31.2 of the 1991 Child Care Act allowing the Gardai, in the excercise of their operational discretion, to release information concerning the teen to the print and broadcast media.

On Thursday lawyers for the Garda Commissioner, in seeking the order, told the Court the investigation had "hit a brick wall.  The Gardai had reached  "a deadlock" in their efforts to identify the girl and Every possible avenue had been exhausted.

Despite their intensive efforts the Gardai were unable to establish who the girl is, where she comes from or who her family are.  As a result the Gardai want to release information, including a picture of the teen, to the media, which could help identify her.

The Gardai believe that a criminal offence has been committed against the girl, who is currently receiving treatment and is in the care of the HSE.

The girl's court appointed guardian supported the Garda application. Felix McEnroy SC on behalf of the guardian said it was in the girls best interests that steps be taken to identify her.

The HSE was against a picture of the girl being published. Its lawyers said professionals who have been working with her believe publication could have "a disturbing effect on her."

The matter had been adjourned to Monday. This afternoon the parties returned before the court where Mr Justice George Birmingham agreed to make an order allowing the Gardai release information about the unidentified minor. 

The Judge had stated on Thursday that he was minded to grant the order allowing a picture of the girl to be published. However he held off making a final decision to give a few more days to allow the girl to stabilise.

On Friday the Judge said he was now  satisfied to make the order sought by the Gardai.

The Judge adjourned the case,  including  proceedings brought on the teens behalf aimed at preventing the HSE from placing her at a non secure facility.

In that action which is against the HSE, Ireland and the Attorney General, the girl's legally appointed guardian has argued before the court that given her needs she should be placed at a secure facility.

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