Since last September, Bernard Durkan TD has repeatedly raised the issue of what is going on in the secret family law courts in Ireland, and is calling for a public investigation into what is happening.
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday 30 March 2023 immediately after the debate on the rape and sexual abuse of women in the army highlighted in the report on the independent review into the Defence Forces published this week Deputy Durkan said that “children are removed from the custody of their mothers and placed in the custody of the opposing party. That is done on a regular basis. That happens in almost 90% of cases, with the same result and the same procedure is followed.”
Tusla does not believe children
Deputy Durkan said: “Invariably, the women in these cases appeal to the system to help them. The system in this instance is Tusla, whose responsibility it is to protect children.
We were admonished in previous eras for not listening to or believing children.
We have situations, as the Ceann Comhairle knows, where children have not been believed.
Even Tusla has said it does not believe the children, that this is not its function and that the issues happen to be before the courts and nobody can interfere. That is not true and is unconstitutional if anyone was to take a case.”
Deputy Durkan said: “The point is that the unfortunate women who find themselves in the circumstances to which I refer are in no position to take constitutional cases because they do not have the resources.”
Mothers and children arrested
The Fine Gael TD for North Kildare who is regarded as an elder statesman having been first elected to the Dáil in 1981 said:
“Children are in some cases put in cells away from their mothers; the mothers in some cases have been put in cells away from the children just to make sure.
In some instances, children have been arrested and put in so-called places of safety, where there were previous allegations to the contrary. This still goes on.”
Deputy Durkan says he wants “an inquiry into the whole system insofar as it relates to Tusla and the family law courts.” He warned that “if this does not happen soon, there will be a tragic end to the situation.”
Peter Burke who was appointed as Minister of State for European Affairs and Minister of State at the Department of Defence following the appointment of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach in December 2022 responded to Deputy Durkan in the absence of the Minister for Children.
Deputy Durkan is advocating on behalf of Birthmothers known to the Alliance of Birthmothers Campaigning for Justice, Ireland’s leading advocacy group for mothers who are victims of Tusla, the Family Law Courts and the Gardai.
When these mothers reported child sex abuse they lost custody of their children which was granted to the perpetrators of this abuse. Access to their children is at the discretion of the alleged paedophiles, some of whom hold high up positions in the public service or have close family connections to powerful people in Irish society.
In some cases the mothers have not seen or spoken to their children in years. In other cases mothers have to pay up to €200 per hour to private companies to provide supervision during their access.
A Birthmother who recently contacted the Alliance of Birthmothers Campaigning for Justice said she gave up her attempt to get her child back when she ran up a bill of €150,000 in legal fees resulting in her getting into debt.
Watch latest attempt by Deputy Durkan to raise the issue