Judge directs that mentally ill woman be removed from her father’s home
Psychiatrist says woman went to hospital emergency department in distress
The judge made orders for the placement of the woman in a residential facility and for transfer of her disability allowance to that facility to ensure it would not go to her father. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES
An extremely vulnerable mentally ill woman has been made a ward of court and removed from her father’s home amid serious concerns of neglect and that he and/or others may be financially exploiting her.
According to reports from a consultant psychiatrist with the HSE, the woman has presented in an “extremely poor state of neglect”, has gone to a hospital’s emergency department a number of times in distress and expressing suicidal ideation, and has been engaged in moderate to severe abuse of alcohol and drugs.
When she attends a day care centre, she also appeared, when offered food, to be very hungry. The psychiatrist had voiced urgent concern a more recent pattern of deterioration in her condition will result in a major incident concerning her. There was a “real fear” all of the woman’s €193 weekly disability allowance is going to pay drug dealers and/or her father, he said.
He was concerned about her lack of insight and her father’s influence over her, particularly over her finances and compliance with medication. The woman was previously in care for a time as were her other siblings.
The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, described as “disturbing” the evidence from the psychiatrist, whom the court had appointed as a medical visitor to assess the capacity of the woman, aged in her 30s, to make decisions.
The medical visitor was satisfied it is not appropriate the woman continue to live with her father in the “dreadful circumstances” set out, he said. On foot of the medical visitor’s report and the other evidence, he was satisfied the woman lacked the necessary capacity and would take her into wardship, the judge said.
He appointed Ms Patricia Hickey, the general solicitor for wards of court, to represent her interests. The judge told Ms Hickey this would be “another difficult case” and it may be necessary to involve another solicitor or independent social worker because, if the woman had been subject to certain things, there may have to be a Garda or some other form of investigation.
On the application of Mairead McKenna BL, for the HSE, the judge also made orders for the placement of the woman in a residential facility and for transfer of her disability allowance to that facility to ensure it would not go to her father.
Ms McKenna also obtained orders directing gardaí to arrest, detain and return the woman to the facility should she leave there. The matter will be reviewed in February, with liberty to apply in the meantime.