Parental assessments order challenged by couple

Orders directed couple to undergo parental assessments, counselling and psychotherapy or face having their children put into care

A couple has challenged District Court orders directing them to undergo parental assessments, counselling and psychotherapy or face having their children put into care.

Their High Court action arises out of childcare proceedings brought against them this year.

Following allegations made against the parents, their four children were taken into care by the State. Two were returned to them, while two remain in care.

A District Court judge last May directed that the couple undergo parenting assessments.

He directed that the mother receive counselling and psychotherapy. The parents had to co-operate fully with all directions and recommendations made by the HSE, and ruled that any failure to comply with his directions would result in their two children being taken from them again.

In a High Court action the parents claim the District Court orders are unlawful and unconstitutional, and are seeking an order quashing the judge’s directions.

Yesterday at the High Court Mr Justice Michael Moriarty granted the couple permission to bring their action on an ex-parte basis (one side only represented in court) and adjourned the matter to October.

Ken Fogarty SC, for the parents, said the children were taken into care after one of them ran away from home and made an allegation of being struck with a belt. While there were marks on the child, there was evidence she had been involved in a fight with other children.

Mr Fogarty said the judge hearing the case had erred in law and had acted in excess of jurisdiction in seeking to compel his clients to undergo testing, psychotherapy and counselling. "The HSE has been allowed to trespass in an unregulated way on my client's rights. It amounts to a breach of their personal rights, privacy and bodily integrity."