A mother of three children representing herself came before Ms Justice Niamh Hyland last week for a judicial review of orders made in the circuit court relating to the removal of her children by the Gardai before handing them over to Tusla.
Judge Hyland didn’t accede to a request from the Senior Counsel representing Tusla to have the case held in camera.
The mother, in oft times harrowing detail told the court that there has never been any issues relating to the children’s welfare when they were under her care submitted to any court as evidence against her.
The three siblings were placed in three separate counties. She described how access was granted for two hours on Christmas Day and they were forced to walk the streets of a provincial city with no place to sit down because everywhere was closed. There was no public transport and she had to wait around until the following day to get a bus home.
On one occasion the Gardaí broke a window to enter her house. A Senior Counsel representing the Gardai and Minister for Justice stated that the Gardai entered the house because they were concerned about the welfare of the children.
The mother claimed the Gardai entered her home when it was unoccupied and removed a number of items including her computer. An affidavit submitted to the court by a Garda superintendent denied this claim.
The mother claimed the in camera rule was breached when the Gardai “plastered” photographs of her daughter in the media saying she ran away from home when in fact she ran away from the residential home where Tusla placed her.
She says the actions of the Gardai resulted in her being stopped by people in the street saying that her child had run away from her. As a result she said that the rights of her family under the constitution were breached.
Judge Hyland read her judgment yesterday, Tuesday 18 July, saying that the mother failed in her application for a judicial review because of the statute of limitations, in other words she was out of time.
She said that the written judgement would be given to the parties in two weeks time. This limits the mother’s time-frame to prepare an appeal to two weeks.
Speaking after the hearing, the mother told M-Compass Media:
“My children were taken from me, three times, always by the Gardaí.
I’ve never had a social worker come to my door to take my children. It’s been the guards that have taken my daughters.
The first occasion the guards detained me for a supposed motoring offense. And whilst I was detained for a motoring offence, which I don’t believe has anything to do with my parental ability, they then went to the children’s schools and took them out of school and the school staff just handed them over without any question.
I asked them afterwards. “Like did you ask the guards what they were doing or where I was?” And they said “no, as soon as they said they wanted the children we just handed them over.” It’s unbelievable.
I didn’t know how to appeal, but I certainly found out. I appealed it to the circuit court.
And in the circuit court, the judge heard the evidence and declared that the children had to be given back to me that day by 4 pm.
He said this was just about a car issue. The barrister for Tusla was not able to give the judge any evidence of child protection issues, even though the judge asked him four different times for the evidence.
There was no child protection issues.
That second time that the Gardaí took my children, they detained me again. Months later they admitted that I was detained in error.
The Gardaí came to my house, and they arrested me and brought me to the station, and they took my children to a different station and then they were given to strangers.
I’ve since had it confirmed that I was detained in error. That’s a pretty big error. I never got an apology for this error, even though I tried and tried to get an apology.
This time they held on to my eldest daughter, and they gave me the two little ones back.
My eldest daughter ran away from the foster home. So when they eventually caught up with her, they took her to a Garda station and they handed her over to Tusla social workers.
Because they had the oldest child they then targeted the younger ones and took them from school.
Five guards surrounded my car in the school playground with all the friends and family of my my children watching on in the school playground at pickup time. Five guards surrounding my car and stopping me getting out my car and making my daughter’s cry, making my children cry. They were fine before that happened. And then as soon as that happened, they were sobbing. It was terrible, just terrible, and the guards took them away, and everyone was looking, they were sobbing and sobbing.”
The mother described numerous false allegations made against her.
“They have made so many false allegations against me, that it would be too much to describe them all, so I am going to generalise.
I have been able to prove in court that they told lies in sworn affidavits. All the judge has done is to tell Tusla to get their house in order. That’s all he does.
I maintain that if I lie in an affidavit, I’d have a punishment for it. But all they get told is get your house in order and supervise the facts with your supervisor before you file something else in.
So they get around this by not letting the mother see what they filed because it’s all based on lies.
There’s there’s no way that detained children have got a voice. And the mother hasn’t got a voice.
Nobody’s listening to the mother. Nobody’s listening to the children. How can you deal with that?…. the false allegations.
Some of them are disgusting blatant lies that be can be verified by the children themselves. But they blocked their voices so that their lies stay hidden.
I don’t know how they sleep at night. Some of these social workers have children themselves and for to be able to tell lies and know that they are lying in court in sworn affidavits about mothers and children, how do they do it and not feel guilty about what they are doing?”