Girl moved to UK centre over fears of self-harm and suicide

No appropriate facility in Ireland for teenager who had been sexually abused by her father


A young girl with a history of self-harm and suicide attempts who was sexually abused by her late father and others is to receive specialist treatment in the UK because there is no appropriate facility in Ireland.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, granted an application to make the teenager a ward of court after finding she lacked capacity to make appropriate decisions concerning her health and welfare.

The girl’s mother, accompanied by a relative, was in court. A solicitor representing the mother said she had “great sadness” about her daughter’s plight and the fact she has to be moved to the UK for treatment. The mother was reluctantly agreeing to wardship because it would facilitate her daughter’s treatment, the solicitor said.

Making the wardship application, David Leahy BL, for the HSE, said the girl had been treated at various facilities in the Republic over some years and had a long-standing history of deliberate self-harm, suicidal ideation and attachment disorder. Her complex history included being subject to psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of her late father and others, he said.


After an incident where she was prevented from throwing herself off a bridge after absconding from an insecure facility, she was made subject to special observation by staff. The view of her treating psychiatrist was that she required a secure specialist placement in the UK, he said.

Mr Justice Kelly said there was tragedy attendant on this application and he was grateful for the mother’s consent to it. This young girl had a range of talents as well as her difficulties, but her situation had deteriorated over the past year and it was best, from the point of view of her welfare, to take her into wardship as soon as possible, he said.

The expert opinion was she needed to be in a secure setting and there was no appropriate facility here, he noted.

While he was advised the teenager had voiced criticism of the UK facility, he hoped she would be reassured by the fact other young people placed there by the court had made good progress.

The judge appointed Patricia Hickey, general solicitor of wards of court, as the committee to represent the girl’s interests and said he was particularly grateful the “very busy” Ms Hickey had said she would visit the girl immediately.