Health Service Executive -v- SC (Care Order - Parenting Capacity)

CourtDistrict Court (Ireland)
JudgeHorgan P.
Judgment Date27 January 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] IEDC 2
Case OutcomeApproved
Date27 January 2012
[2012] IEDC 2
27 January 2012
1. This is an applicat ion for a Care Order under section 18 of t he Child Care Act, 1991 in respect of Child 1, born June 2003.
2. Child 1’s mother is the respondent. She is represented by Counsel instruc ted by t he Law Centre in t he proceedings.
3. The f ather of Child 1 is not a legal guardian and has never partic ipated in the proce edings or in Child 1’s life to date .
4. Child 1 was appointed a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) to represent his separate inte rest in the proc eedings. The GAL is legally
5. Child 1 has had four distinct periods of care or supervision by the HSE:
(a) 15 April 2010–10 June 2010: Interim Care Order was granted on 15 April 2010. The Interim Care Order was
extended on three oc casions thereafter and Child 1 was ret urned to the c are of his mother on 10 June 2010;
(b) 10 June 2010–4 January 2011: Supervision Order was granted for a period of 6 months to t he HSE on 10 June
2010 to ‘safety net’ the return of Child 1 to the c are of his mother. A further Supervision Order was granted on 12
October 10. T he mother appealed the latt er Order to the Circuit Court which aff irmed the Order of t he District
Court. The HSE did not s eek a further Supervision Order on the expiration of this Order;
(c) 09 May 2011 –14 July 2011: An Garda Síochána exercised powers under sec tion 12 of t he 1991 Act on 9 May
2011 and, arising from this, the HSE sought an Emergency Care Order which was refused by the Court. The Court
granted a Supervision Order and appointed the GAL on the making of the Supervision Order; and
(d) 27 July 11 to date : ICO was granted on t his date and e xtended on 22 occ asions to the first day of this t wo day
haring. The mother appealed the original Interim Care Order and has lodged 12 appeals against t he interim orders.
6. The HSE brought this applicat ion on the basis t hat Child 1’s health, development, and welfare is likely to be av oidably impaired or
neglected if he is returned at t his time to the c are of his mother beca use her mental health issues have negatively impacted on her
son’s health, development, and welfare and furthermore impede her from recognising the effec t of her behaviours on her son despit e
the supports av ailable to her from the mental health services. Furthermore, they c ontend that the mother lacks the ca pacity t o
provide Child 1 with a psychologically healthy experience of parenting, to provide an appropriate home environment, and t o support
his educational and soc ial development due to her own significant pe rsonal difficulties associat ed with her diagnosis as suffe ring from
a paranoid personality disorder. It is their case t hat t he mother’s deeply held belief systems have not s hifted appreciably despite 21
sessions of psyc hotherapy. It is acknowledged that the mother loves and c ares deeply for her son, who in turn loves her and is
conc erned about, and loyal to her.
7. The mother, through her legal team, conc edes that her behaviour and responses towa rds professionals in the health, educ ation,
and HSE services in and around April–June 2010 were negatively impacted by the absenc e of medication, isolation from family, and t he
cumulative impact of what she felt w ere the unsafe and threatening circ umstanc es assoc iated wit h her acc ommodation in the inner
city at t hat time. She is clear, howe ver, that it was her intent ion and priority to ensure her son’s physical saf ety, t o ensure his
emotional health, and to sec ure appropriate safe housing. She c ontends that she has made efforts to a ddress her mental health
issues and her housing issues. She has undergone six months of psychot herapy to address t he diagnosis of paranoid personality
disorder. She has declined medication as it is not a required element for t he treatment of that diagnosis. She has now sec ured a nice
home environment and she wants her so n returned to her c are at t his time. It is her case t hat she should be supported to ac hieve
family reunification under a Supervision Order.
8. The Court hea rd evidence from the following witnesses ov er a two day period:
o The Ps ychiatrist;
o Social Worker 1;
o The Ps ychologist;
o Social Worker 2;
o The mother; and
o Guardian Ad Litem.
9. The F ollowing Reports were admitted:
o Reports of t he GP;

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