Teenagers taken into care after village burnt by ‘Islamic sect’

Family Court judge also concerned for safety of girl who went missing six times last month while in care of the State

Judge Colin Daly, at the Family Court, appointed a guardian to the two unaccompanied siblings.  Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

Judge Colin Daly, at the Family Court, appointed a guardian to the two unaccompanied siblings. Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 01:00

Two teenagers were taken into care yesterday at the Dublin District Family Court after telling social workers their village was burnt down by an “Islamic sect”.

In a separate case, Judge Colin Daly said he was very concerned for the welfare of a teenager who had gone missing six times last month while in the care of the State.

In another case, a plan to relocate two children, one of whom will sit State exams next year, has been put on hold pending a report from their court-appointed guardian.

The Child and Family Agency made an application yesterday to take two teenagers into care after it was contacted by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner.

The social worker told Judge Daly the teenagers said in mid-July their father left the family home in their country of origin to pray with his pastor. While he was gone, an “Islamic sect” set fire to their village, burning it down along with their home.

Escaped and hid

The teenagers said they were “unable to save their brother and sister”, but escaped and hid in the bush. Afterwards, they travelled to a local town where a relative took them in and arranged for them to go abroad.

They said they arrived in Ireland earlier this month and lived with a relative for a few days, but when she realised they were both ill, she took them into the city centre and left them there. The teenagers were taken to a hospital, where they were treated for a serious illness and brought to the attention of the agency.

The social worker said they had no documentation and had told him their mother was dead and they were not sure where their father was.

They also did not have details of the house in which they had stayed in Ireland.

He said the agency would contact the Irish Red Cross to try to find their father.

The teenagers have since been placed in a residential unit for unaccompanied minors and will get ongoing medical treatment.

The judge made an interim care order for 28 days and appointed a guardian for the siblings. He also directed that the social worker be allowed to consent to medical and psychiatric treatment for them.

In a separate case, the court heard a teenager in a residential unit went missing six times last month and was “absent at risk” on three occasions.

The girl’s court-appointed guardian gave evidence that she was missing for several nights and returned to the residential unit in which she was staying “to shower and go out again”.

The teenager’s social worker said she was second on a waiting list for a placement.

Judge Daly said he was “extremely concerned” that this vulnerable young person had gone missing. All the professionals involved in the case agreed last February that the girl needed to be moved to a unit outside Dublin and he had directed that this should happen. He said he expected this direction to be complied with.

Guardian on leave

If the teenager was not moved by next month the chairperson of the agency’s placement committee was to attend court and explain why, he said.

Separately, the judge refused to allow the relocation of two children, one of whom is facing State exams, to a rural foster family pending a report from their court-appointed guardian.

Last week, the children’s parents had argued the children should not be moved and the legal representative for the guardian had also raised concerns.

Yesterday, the Child and Family Agency said the children had not yet been informed of the move and the placement would be lost if it wasn’t taken up shortly. The judge said it was important that the guardian, who is on leave, be present to represent the voices of the children “who are the subject of the care arrangements”.

“The children are to remain where they are until this matter is heard,” he said. He adjourned the case to early September.