Judge Zaidan slams HSE over care of children

A DISTRICT Court Judge has slammed the record of the HSE for how it looks after children in its care, saying that almost all of them end up in trouble.

A DISTRICT Court Judge has slammed the record of the HSE for how it looks after children in its care, saying that almost all of them end up in trouble.

During the course of last Wednesday’s sitting of Naas District Court, September 25, Judge Desmond Zaidan encountered a young man who was before him on a number of serious charges.

The young man’s family situation had been difficult. His parents had significant issues with alcohol and he had left school early without the ability to read or write.

He had, at some point in the past, been in the care of the HSE and had been placed into foster care.

This prompted an angry reaction from the judge. Mindful of the forthcoming referendum on the Rights of the Child Judge Zaidan said that in making it legal for the State to become the legal guardian of a child in circumstances where the child’s parents were deemed unable to look after them, it was “only only papering over the cracks”.

“The HSE is already doing that.”

But that wasn’t his main concern. His view is that, as he says, “eight or nine out of ten of those children taken into care end up before me.

“It’s all a lot of hogwash. The State has failed so horribly!”

He was also frustrated that there appears to be very little understanding amongst the general public of this because cases involving juveniles cannot be reported.

“The matter is not properly reported because in this country we do things behind closed doors. Nobody beyond these four walls knows about these cases.”

Because of this, he felt that the “courts take the blame for the failure of the Oireachtas” for failing to legislate.

“Let the State that has failed him look after him,” he said referring to the defendant before him. “It’s so depressing.

“I had another young man this morning. He’s been in care and in foster care and he’s been coming before me since the age of 14 and it’s just bail, after bail, after bail.”

“Let the State educate him in prison. I don’t think I fancy his chances of getting an education.

“It’s a disgraceful behaviour. They fail all the time and very little is said about it.”

Judge Zaidan later spoke further on the matter to the Leinster Leader.

“There is no safeguard or safety measures put in place to protect the children in HSE care,” he explained.

“There is nothing in any Act of the Oireachtas that would suggest even a hint of someone to police the HSE.

“It’s totally in the hands of the HSE. Once they go into care, that’s it. There’s nobody to keep a watchful eye on the HSE to make sure it is doing what it should, that it is looking after these children properly.”

He also said that when children in care become troublesome, the HSE “farms them out to private commercial entities. The HSE pays them to house the child.

“But they have no legal control over the kids. These kids can do what they like.”

- Conor McHugh