Parents in court battle over access to intellectually disabled baby

Woman previously obtained a protection order against the man

A father and mother are locked in a court battle over the man’s access to their intellectually disabled baby who is due to have major surgery.

The case was before Dublin District family court on Friday via an application by the father for interim access to the child, aged less than one year.

The woman previously obtained a protection order against the man and her solicitor sought an order requiring preparation of a report concerning the child’s welfare to assist the court in deciding on access.

The man, representing himself, told Judge Máire Conneely the protection order was sought three weeks after he sought access to the baby. He obtained full access of an older child following another welfare report, he said.

The woman’s solicitor said he has not seen the younger child since last month when he evicted the woman from the apartment where they were staying. The woman has welfare concerns about leaving the baby with him for reasons including he had confirmed he used cocaine and because he has gambling issues, she said.

The man said the woman "had the baby on the bed and all their bags packed" when he returned to the apartment. Tusla – the Child and Family Agency – has the woman under observation over cannabis abuse, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital several years ago after a suicide attempt and he was concerned she might seek to harm herself or the child, he said.

Judge Conneely said, given the age of the child, she would not make an interim access order in favour of the man at this stage. She directed the welfare report be prepared by October and returned the matter for mention in July.

Safety order

Also on Friday, the judge granted a three year safety order to a woman who said she had fled her home with her young children after being beaten on the back and head with the lid of a pot and being kicked by her partner. The woman and children have been in a refuge since the incident last November which resulted in a conviction against the man.

The woman sought a safety order rather than accept an undertaking offered from the man in similar terms.

In evidence, the woman said, during the November incident, the man kicked her while she was holding their young daughter and beat her on the head and back with the lid of a pot. She said she fled to a neighbour’s house and asked them to phone gardaí. She had no phone of her own because her partner would not permit her to have one, she said.

She said the man assaulted her regularly during their five year relationship, including when she was pregnant, and was verbally abusive to her.

The man said he loved the woman and children and denied the assault claims or that he would not permit her have a phone of her own. He denied he had beaten and kicked her during the November incident and said that arose after she confronted him with suspicions he was seeing another woman and was verbally abusive. He said he told her he was not seeing anyone else, she pushed him and he had pushed her back before leaving their home for a relative’s home. He denied this occurred in the presence of the children.

Under cross-examination by Olivia Crehan BL, for the man, the woman agreed he had not sought to contact or text her since she had left their home.

Ms Crehan said the man was concerned the woman's application for an order requiring him to sign passport applications for the children could result in her leaving Ireland with the children and not returning because she has no job, family or other ties here and the children are not in school here.

The woman said her family reside in another EU country, she has not seen them for six years and wants to visit them there but intends to return to Ireland.

Having heard the sides, Judge Conneely found the woman’s evidence in relation to the November incident was credible. Taking that and the man’s conviction for assault into account, the judge granted a three year safety order.

After the woman indicated she wanted to be out of the jurisdiction with the children more than 30 days for reasons including to explore school options abroad, the judge declined to make an order concerning the passports and said that should be addressed at an access hearing.