State fails teens with problems, says judge

Judge Zaidan.

Judge Zaidan.

The case of a 14-year-old Kildare teenager who told a youth group, the Halo Project, trying to help him that he did not intend to give up illegal drugs was heard in camera in at Kilcock District Court on 1 April.

Judge Desmond Zaidan was told by Gardai that the State wanted to revoke bail of the youth, who it felt was out of control.

Barrister, Sarah Connolly, who was representing the teenager, said he had gone for assessment, but nothing was being done for him.

The boy had been remanded on bail at a previous sitting.

Garda Inspector Paul Dolan said he did not go to Court lightly to revoke bail.

Ms. Connolly said the boy was “falling through the cracks” of the various State institutions.

Judge Zaidan said this boy was out of control, and questioned the value of an assessment of him by Trinity House, which deals with teenagers who fall foul of the law.

“I can use very strong words, but there are newspapers here,” he said.

Judge Zaidan said he wanted to help the boy, but he had a duty to the public as well, after hearing the boy had left school.

The Judge said there were significant State failures when it comes to the rehabilitation of young offenders.

There is no substance behind the system. It is a front which does not meet their needs, he stated.

The boy’s father said his son was friendly and polite when not using illegal drugs.

“The drugs are the issue,” he said.

Judge Zaidan said the parents needed help with their son, and adjourned the case for seven days.

He noted that even if the boy was acquitted of charges before the Court, the Health Service Executive has a role to play, but, said Judge Zaidan, the Court has not got a magic wand.

“What happened to the Children’s Charter of Rights which was voted upon in a referendum? he asked.

“Why put the people of Ireland through that if it only papers over the cracks.

He said: “I am not supposed to get into political arena, but I have no fear of criticising the laws.”




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