Social worker feared father of child in care would assault her

Father’s anger ‘burning him up inside’, court-appointed guardian tells family court

 Care order extended: judge advised father to accept any help on offer. Photograph: Vladimir Cetinski/Getty

Care order extended: judge advised father to accept any help on offer. Photograph: Vladimir Cetinski/Getty


A social worker at the Dublin District Family Court has said she feared the father of a child in care was going to assault her.

In a hearing to extend an interim care order for the child yesterday, the social worker said the father had become increasingly agitated and aggressive in his dealings with her and had stopped taking medication, prescribed for a neurological condition.

She told Judge Brendan Toale she had attempted to carry out a parenting capacity assessment with the father, but he gave “unusual answers” and she was unable to complete it.

At their last meeting, earlier this month, he had become very aggressive, had stood up and shouted close to her face and raised his clenched fists. She said dealing with him was “very uncomfortable” and he had to be escorted from the building.

“I was afraid at one stage he may assault me,” she said.

The father, who was legally represented, made increasingly loud comments during the social worker’s evidence. He said the suggestion of a psychological assessment for him, was “a f***ing joke”. When the social worker gave evidence about a dispute that arose with relative foster carers, he accused her of lying under oath and said it was “bulls**t”.

The child, in the care of the agency since last summer, had lived with her mother initially, and then with her father. Details of why she was taken into care were not given in court. The child’s mother was not present and had addiction issues, the court was told.

The social worker said the child was happy and settled with her relative foster carers but had a close bond with her father and wanted to live with him.

Giving evidence, the father described his own position as “mission impossible”. He said he did not know “where they got their concerns”.

Anger management course

“Why all the bulls**t, your honour? I want to know what’s going on,” he said. “Why do I have to see a psychologist?”

The court-appointed guardian told the court he wanted to see the father and daughter reunited. “I’ve told him his anger is burning him up inside and a lot is linked to his own childhood,” he said. “He’s burning with rage and making little progress.”

He suggested the father seek alternative medication from the one prescribed, given that he had come off it because of the side-effects. He also said a psychological assessment would be useful.

Extending the interim care order, the judge told the father any parent dealing with a childcare case must find it “extraordinarily difficult”, but it did require “a certain amount of restraint” in the interests of his daughter. He said the questions asked in a parenting capacity assessment might appear “facetious or foolish”, but they were necessary.

“So if you’re asked what you had for your breakfast, I suggest you answer it,” he said.

He also advised the father to take any services on offer and said there was a lot in the case that was positive; it just needed work from everybody.