Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, was granted a temporary court order at Naas District Court on March 16, concerning a toddler girl, following details of a ‘distressing’ incident in a County Kildare town the previous Sunday.
The court heard that the child was “left abandoned in a pharmacy” after her mother, 24, began to strip naked and subsequently ran through the town.
Judge Desmond Zaidan granted the order to the agency after hearing that the girl’s mother had run naked down a street.
The order was granted under section 12 of the Mental Health Act, which empowers a garda to act if they believe a person may be at risk of causing immediate and serious harm to themselves.
The court also heard that the woman was shouting and screaming biblical phrases, her behaviour was erratic and she was completely naked.
The garda giving evidence to the court was accompanied by two colleagues, one a woman, and these were assaulted by the woman.
He said the incident was very distressing for everyone and from what he could see, he believed she had had a severe mental breakdown.
Tusla was notified and the child was taken into care at a foster facility while the woman was admitted to a psychiatric hospital..
He also said that the woman appeared to have taken a substance, adding “we looked after her as best we could”.
The garda said people known to the woman had seen “a gradual decrease in (her) mental wellbeing” prior to the incident. He said there had been no immediate improvement in the woman’s health.
He said that a man claiming to be the girl’s father was arrested for a breach of the Public Order Act.
Another garda told the court of the discovery of a substance thought to be cathinone, which is a synthetic form of cocaine - subject to confirmation. He also said a large amount of cash - in excess of €4,000 in €50 notes - was found. Both the money and substances were found in the shared accommodation setting where the woman lives - but there is no evidence linking either the substance or the money to the man or the woman.
Solicitor Tim Kennelly, representing the man, said there was nothing to show the man is not the father and he had been seeing the woman on a weekly basis. He also said the man had been living in a car for the last four months.
Judge Desmond Zaidan said he had no reason to doubt that the man was the father and he favoured the option of the child being with her father, rather than in care for longer than necessary but he could not have the child staying in a car.
He said Tusla have to try to find a way to house them and a Tusla representative said the agency had been in talks with the local authority but these were suspended when it emerged that the man may be a person of interest to the gardaí.
An emergency care order can last for up to eight days.