High number of Letterkenny child care cases explained by adjournments

Staff Reporter

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Staff Reporter

High number of Letterkenny child care cases explained by adjournments

The high number of care applications made in Letterkenny highlights the need for a family law court, according to the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
More emergency applications to take children into care were made in Letterkenny last year in 2015 than in any other town, according to data released by the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
According to the data, which is compiled by the Courts Service and analysed by the project, 26 emergency applications were made at Letterkenny District Court.
An emergency care order is applied for when gardaí and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, believe there is an immediate and serious risk to a child’s health or welfare.
Letterkenny District Court saw a total of 1,117 applications related to childcare, more than any other town. There were almost 450 full care order applications, normally made to keep children in the care of the State until adulthood.
Only the cities of Dublin and Cork had more emergency applications and they also had higher overall numbers of child care applications; 2,003 and 2,472 respectively.
They both had fewer full care order applications than Letterkenny, with 128 and 230 respectively.
Dr Carol Coulter of the Child Care Law Reporting Project said the number of emergency care orders in Letterkenny was not particularly extraordinary but the total number of cases was very high. This could be explained by the number of adjournments of which there were 643 in Letterkenny last year, she said.
“There has been a very high number of cases that come to court and then get adjourned,” she said.
“That means the total figure for Letterkenny looks very high compared to other counties…I wouldn’t have been that struck by the emergency care orders because they tend to be low and 26 is not that outstanding.”
She said the Court Service counts units of work, as opposed to children or families, and this would help explain the high figures. “You could have the same family accounting for perhaps several dozen units of work and therefore pushing up the figures,” she told Highland Radio.
“What it is showing is really we do need a family court where there won't be so many adjournments. We need to be able to have these cases heard continuously rather than spread out over several months with lots and lots of different court adjournments.”
She said the long delays in the system in some parts of the country is due to under investment in both the Courts Service and the Child and Family Agency.