High Court permits Tusla to place girl engaging in ‘high risk’ behaviour in secure unit

Teenager said to have acted inappropriately, damaged property, been verbally abusive and threatened people with knives

Tusla has secured a temporary High Court order allowing it to place a teenage girl who has been engaging in high-risk behaviour in a secure unit for troubled youths.

The Child and Family Agency, represented by Paul Gunning, said it was seeking a special care order as part of its ongoing efforts to protect the life, health, safety and welfare of the girl, who it says it at risk of immediate harm.

The order, allowing Tusla to place the teenager in a secure care unit, was granted on an ex-parte basis during a vacation sitting of the High Court by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds, who expressed concern for the girl’s welfare. The judge said she hoped the girl would be able to get the therapeutic services and help she requires at the special care unit.

Mr Gunning, instructed by Patrick O’Neill of Mason, Hayes and Curran solicitors, said the girl had been in his client’s care for some time due to some chaotic and traumatic incidents within her family. It is claimed the girl has been subjected to various forms of abuse as well as being isolated and neglected at her home.


Extremely difficult

The court heard she was initially put into foster care and then various non-secure placements, but that none of the these had worked out as the girl’s behaviour had been extremely difficult to manage. She had been violent towards staff on many occasions at the non-secure facilities.

It was also claimed she had engaged in inappropriate behaviour and bullying, had damaged property, threatened people with knives and verbally abused others. Counsel said that at one facility where the girl had been placed, some 14 members of staff had left due to her behaviour.

The judge was told there were serious concerns about the teenager’s mental health, and fears that she may cause serious harm to herself and others. It was becoming very difficult to source a placement where the girl could get the assistance required, counsel said.

Mr Gunning said those charged with caring for the girl had formed the opinion that she required a period in special care in order to keep her safe.

He said that relevant parties, including the girl’s court-appointed guardian and the teenager, were made aware in advance of the court hearing that Tusla intended to seek an order allowing it to place her in a secure unit. There were no objections to the proposal, he said.

The matter will be next mentioned before the courts again later this month.