High Court president meets HSE to ensure best services for wards of court

Ms Justice Mary Irvine expressed concerns over wards amid Covid-19 pandemic

On Thursday, Ms Justice Irvine said she had a “very helpful” meeting with Dr Cathal Morgan, the head of the HSE’s disability operations in relation to the Covid-19 impact on wards. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

On Thursday, Ms Justice Irvine said she had a “very helpful” meeting with Dr Cathal Morgan, the head of the HSE’s disability operations in relation to the Covid-19 impact on wards. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

 

The president of the High Court has met the HSE’s head of disability operations in a bid to ensure the “best possible” services for wards of court affected by restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who manages the court’s wardship list, had expressed concerns in a number of cases that wards should not be excessively confined in their placements as a result of Covid-19.

Her concerns arose because Covid-19 has impacted on access of wards to trips and outings outside their placements and on their participation in outside courses and activities.

She had requested the HSE to examine the position in the context of a number of wardship cases, particularly relating to young people who are wards.

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland, who also deals with wardship matters, has expressed particular concern about the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on wards who are based in hospitals for long periods.

On Thursday, Ms Justice Irvine said she had a “very helpful” meeting with Dr Cathal Morgan, the head of the HSE’s disability operations, that morning in relation to the Covid-19 impact on wards.

Dr Morgan is to bring forward proposals to ensure the “best possible services” are provided to wards, particularly young people, while the pandemic continues, the judge said.

She made the comments when dealing with a wardship matter concerning a vulnerable young woman from a very impoverished background.

The woman has addiction and other issues and a past history of exploitation by certain family members and others.

Aged in her early 30s, she was reported to have made good progress following her placement in a high support care facility.

The judge welcomed reports showing the HSE has taken steps to ensure the woman continues, despite Covid-19 restrictions, to have various outings, activities and therapies from which she has benefited.

Mairead McKenna BL, for the HSE, indicated it was also hoped the woman would be able to see certain family members over Christmas.

The judge was told the general consensus of the professionals involved in the woman’s care is that she would not be able to engage with an online course .

She will be facilitated in attending a particular course in which she had expressed an interest when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, it was stated.

The judge said the reports were very helpful and showed that every potential the woman has is being explored.

Although the court appreciated that pursuing an online course would present more difficulties, the professionals should keep in the back of their minds that, for anyone to engage in the community at all, they will need to be able to navigate technology, the judge said.

All that can be done to support the woman in that regard should be done, she said.