“The State is failing children in care” a court heard during a case against a 15 year old who came before it charged with extensive criminal damage and imprisonment of staff members in a child care facility in west Kildare.
Hearing the case at Kilock District Court on Tuesday, February 19, Judge Desmond Zaidan said he was so concerned with the well being of the youth and incidents at the Nua centre in west Kildare, that he advised the teenager’s solicitor, David Powderly, to seek a ruling from the High Court.
Gardai brought the case, also alleging that the teenager had held two staff at the centre against their will.
Judge Zaidan said the State was not facing up to its constitutional responsibilities for children with difficulties and questioned why it was moving responsibility to private institutions like Nua, which had a profit motive.
A representative of Nua indicated that the only way to meet the teenager’s needs was to increase its staff ratio.
After hearing from Gardai how the youth, who had turned up at an earlier sitting with blood on him, was found half way out second storey window, Judge Zaidan said he was very concerned for the teenager and wanted the matter referred to the High Court to make sure that the needs of the teenager were met. No one had diagnosed his problem, he said.
The Court was heard that while the teenager did not have alcohol or drug problems - and the HSE, following assessments did not consider, he had psychiatric problems – he did have behavioural problems and was very aggressive. He was deemed to have a mild learning difficulty.
The teenager told the Court that he did not like being locked in.
A HSE official said they believed Nua was safe and the youth’s day to day needs were met. They were actively looking for a longer term care facility for the teenager, whose parents, the Judge said had let him down.
While Judge Zaidan did not want to send the teenager back to Nua that day, he did so and adjourned the case to this Friday coming, 22 February.”