'Children's referendum will change nothing'
on 05/10/2012 00:00:00
Her comments came during a case involving a girl, 17, who is in the throes of a drug addiction and keeps absconding from care. The girl has been living in a residential care unit and had been ordered as a condition of bail to obey a curfew there.
Garda Sgt Seamus Treacy told the judge the girl has repeatedly gone missing in recent weeks and drug-taking paraphernalia had been found in her bedroom.
As he explained this, he took out a plastic bag containing a spoon and burned tinfoil, which he showed to the judge. The teenager, whose speech was sluggish, said "That's my sister's".
Sgt Treacy said the girl, from her demeanour, was not in a fit state to be in court and "not compos mentis in relation to any discussion" and there were serious issues in relation to her addiction.
"I do have a drug problem, I need help," said the girl, who has stopped attending addiction counselling.
Her social worker said the girl had been placed in a residential care home where the staff had worked endlessly to keep her secure. There were child protection concerns and an application to place her in a special secure care environment had been made.
The social worker said "there are 10 special care beds in the country", and the decision on whether the girl will get one is in the hands of a HSE committee.
The girl's lawyer said the HSE cannot currently "keep an eye on her every minute of the day" and it was accepted the teenager had breached her bail terms and had continued to abuse drugs.
Judge Ryan said care workers had done their utmost but the girl's current placement was not appropriate and the priority now was that she was "off the streets and minded".
She could only hold the teenager in a detention centre for one week for breach of bail. "After that it is the responsibility of the HSE", she said.
She added: "It is a joke listening to the children's referendum - nothing changes, and nothing will change with the referendum, the bottom line is the same as the first day I sat in this court."
In relation to the 10 special care beds she said: "I wonder how many managers are there in the HSE?" The judge then said: "It is a shame, a sin, and a disgrace."
The judge remanded the girl, who was in tears, in custody to appear again next week. She said that by then she expected to hear progress had been made in relation to putting the girl into a special care unit. "If there is no progress, I would expect someone who is making the decisions to come to court," she said.
The judge also directed that the girl receive medical attention in custody.