A newborn baby – just a day old – was taken into the State’s care because of concerns about parental neglect.
The baby has several siblings who are also all living in State care due to “severe neglect” by their parents, a court has heard.
An emergency care order was granted to Tusla, the child and family agency, at a District Court in Co Galway on Tuesday.
Judge Mary Fahy said she had no option but to grant the order after hearing evidence from the baby’s care team leader about welfare concerns.
The ex parte order was made in the absence of the parents of the child who was born in a public hospital on Monday.
The newborn’s care team leader explained that the parents “can’t meet the basic care needs” of their children, who were in care.
The team leader confirmed to the solicitor for Tusla, Pádhraic Harris, that she had “concerns over the welfare of the child” should it be left with the parents.
The court heard that one of the newborn’s siblings had 20 teeth extracted “due to care issues”, and the children’s “basic care needs are not being met” by the mother and father.
The parents declined to allow Tusla representatives into their home to inspect it to see if it was in a fit state for a newborn child to live in.
When the baby’s siblings were placed into the care of other families, “they continued to sleep on the floor” rather than in beds, because “that’s what they were used to”, the team leader said.
One of the newborn’s five-year-old siblings had “huge behavioural issues”, and Tusla said it had concerns about “ongoing issues of neglect”.
The court heard Tusla staff feared initially that the mother might not present at the hospital to give birth.
Since giving birth, the fear was that the parents cannot care for the baby.
The parents had been engaging with services in Northern Ireland, but fled that jurisdiction, and their lives were “chaotic”.
The court heard Tusla feared they were a “flight risk”, which was another reason the emergency care order was needed.
Mr Harris explained the emergency care order can only be granted for eight days.
If granted, he said, parental access to the newborn will be at the discretion of Tusla, who could make decisions on behalf of the child including consenting to any medical interventions or treatments.
The judge said the court had “very little choice” but to grant the order given the possibility of neglect and possibility of the parents leaving the jurisdiction.