A judge has removed three small children from the care of their parents after hearing allegations that they were stripped and flogged by their father at home.
By Gordon Deegan
At the Family Law Court in Ennis, Judge Mary Larkin granted a 28 day Interim Care Order (ICO) for the children to TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency (CFA). The address of the children’s new home is not to be made known to the parents by court order.
A Childcare Support Co-Ordinator at a local refuge told the court how the couple’s six year old boy told her, “My Dad flogs me with a wire and I have to take my trousers off and it still hurts”.
The court also heard an allegation that the man beat the three year old girl with a shoe and left bruises and marks.
Judge Larkin told the court that she has heard “the most extraordinary allegations of serious physical abuse against three small children” by the man. She stated: “I can’t say whether it is true or false at this stage.”
In July, the mother of the three children gave sworn evidence in court of the flogging and stripping where she secured a Protection Order against her husband who is father to two of the children.
However, the woman told Judge Larkin that what she stated in July and what the children told social workers concerning the physical abuse by her husband “is all lies”.
The mother told the court: “Everything I said and what the children said was all lies. I made up some stuff against my husband.”
The mother stated: “I want my family and my children back to me. I don’t want them to be taken into care. I want to take responsibility for my children and my husband.”
Judge Larkin told the woman: “You are after telling me that you came into court in July and perjured yourself and you are saying that your daughter is a liar and you told her to be a liar? Who I am supposed to believe?”
Solicitor for the CFA, Kevin Sherry stated that what the mother is now saying about everything being lies “is completely incredulous and is not in any way believable”.
TUSLA moved to make the application for the “extremely urgent” Interim Care Order (ICO) after the mother brought the children to the father’s new address in breach of a Safety Plan put in place by TUSLA for the children.
Gardai and TUSLA social workers arrived at the father’s address and removed the children to the home of a relative of the mother’s but that placement is now no longer available requiring the need for the ICO.
The woman and her children entered a local women’s refuge in June and a Childcare Support Co-Ordinator at a local refuge told the court that the boy also told her “Dad punched me so hard in the head and it still hurts. I went to the doctor and it was sore”.
The boy told a CFA social worker that he wanted the “knuckling” to stop.
He told the same social worker that his father kicked him into the stomach at Christmas time when he opened a Christmas present belonging to his father.
The six year old also alleged that his father used to beat him with a pipe that was used to hold up the hangers in the wardrobe. The six year old told the social worker that he doesn’t want to go back to his father.
The two older children interviewed by TUSLA also alleged that they saw the man slap and beat their mother.
Judge Larkin told the father that he maybe shouldn’t give evidence as he may be facing assault causing harm charges in the criminal court.
However, the man in sworn evidence told the court that, “Everything they said about me is all lies from the beginning. I love my children and I wouldn’t do anything to them. I would never hurt my children”
Asked why his wife would come into court and say that he beat her and the children, the man stated that it was a misunderstanding around money. He stated: “It is all made up and all lies.”
Two CFA social workers told Judge Larkin that the allegations made by the children are credible. One told the judge: “In my professional opinion, I have no doubt but that the children’s version to be credible.”
The other told Judge Larkin that she was mindful of the father’s denials and stated: “I have no doubt that the children have gone through these experiences and what they said is not coached.”
As part of a Garda investigation into the allegations, the children have been interviewed by specialist Garda interviewers and the children’s mother also made a statement to Gardai.
One of the TUSLA social workers told Judge Larkin that a family relative tried to intervene when she saw the father allegedly assault the children “but that she was told by him to mind her own business, that he was the father of his children and he could basically do whatever he wanted”.
The social worker stated that the children’s mother had told her that she had covered the children’s bruises up with foundation before going to school. She stated that the mother when making the initial allegation was crying and that her information was very credible and detailed.
The social worker stated that she is quite worried about the mother “and I would hope that she is okay”. The social worker stated that she asked the mother if her husband had threatened her and she said ‘no’.