Judge says €4,500 a week to house troubled teenager is ‘daft’

Annual spend of €250,000 is higher than cost of Eton College, says Judge Patrick Durcan

In his February ruling, the judge described the transactions as “classic back-to-back transactions, done for public optics only,” and said there was ample evidence that they were “totally illegal and fraudulent”.

In his February ruling, the judge described the transactions as “classic back-to-back transactions, done for public optics only,” and said there was ample evidence that they were “totally illegal and fraudulent”.

 

A District Court judge has said it is “scandalous” that the State is paying a private operator – which is providing no services – €4,500 a week to house a troubled teenage boy.

At the family law court in Ennis, Judge Patrick Durcan said the €250,000 annual spend on accommodating the 16-year-old boy at an apartment in Co Louth is more than it would cost to send a teenager to Eton College in England.

The judge said: “There is an expenditure of €250,000 a year by the State for a boy in a centre where there is nothing being provided for him.”

He added: “There seems to be no planning involved in this case. There is no planning, purely reaction, no action – reaction the whole time.”

The boy was placed there last week after being transferred from a residential unit in Co Clare where, the boy’s mother’s solicitor Ann Walsh admitted, the boy was out of control. The principal social worker in the case said the teenager at the Clare centre was very difficult, hard to control and did not engage with any therapeutic services.

Abusive

assaulting staff

However, the judge said there is no structure in place, to date, for the boy at his new placement and he is free to come and go between 9am and 11pm each day.

He said: “I cannot see this type of structure at €4,500 a week. I cannot see what is being put in place in return for that – at that cost, I think it is scandalous. I’m sorry, I have to say that, I just can’t see it.”

The judge said the €4,500 a week “is grossly over-costed”.

“There is a level of daftness that this country has got used to and this is part of it.”

Structure

The home – which encourages semi-independent living – has a capacity for four and it currently has three residents.

The director said he doesn’t tolerate any staff being assaulted at the unit and has had only two assaults in six years.

He said the unit that houses the apartments has the same staff ratio as residential units.

According to the director, the boy has been out for a substantial number of days.

The social worker said a team from the Child and Family Agency (CFA) will be meeting on site tomorrow. She said: “We will be putting structures in place and activities and a plan for the boy. I do appreciate there has to be structure, but it is not a lock-up facility. We will be putting in structure – it is very much a settling-in period.”

Solicitor for the CFA Kevin Sherry said he disagreed with Judge Durcan’s criticisms and said there is a level of structure that will be implemented as of tomorrow. He said: “There is always a bedding-down period. There is a good track record there. It is very early days in the placement.”

Judge Durcan said that he viewed the matter to be so serious that he would return to Ennis on August 11th to get an update on the case.