The siblings of a two-month old baby that died were taken into emergency care amid concerns for the children’s welfare.
An application for the Emergency Care Order was made by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and it was granted following a hearing at a midlands court.
The baby was born prematurely and spent a number of weeks in hospital before being released into the care of her parents.
The baby’s mother arrived in Ireland, along with her other children, the day before she gave birth.
The baby returned to the hospital for a routine appointment and was kept in overnight for observation as there was an issue with the child’s breathing.
Four days later, the parents contacted Midoc, as their baby was experiencing breathing difficulties.
Solicitor for Tusla outlined that the child was transferred to a Dublin hospital at 5.30am on the date in question and the ventilator was turned off in the evening at around 8.30pm.
In evidence, a social worker explained she had been put on notice as a child had presented in hospital with a skull fracture and serious head trauma. Gardaí were also liaising on the matter.
Tusla’s legal representative produced a medical report which suggested the child died from respiratory arrest which there was no clear explanation for, but upon further examination bilateral retinal haemorrhages, a skull fracture and acute subdural haematoma were found. “These findings are classically seen of head injury and this is the crux of the issue.”
The social worker indicated they had received a previous referral in relation to the family. A patient, who had since left the hospital, reported an allegation or concern that the father of the deceased was observed shaking one of his other children violently.
Solicitor for the family asked why this allegation was not made known to him as he had asked for all information to be made known.
The social worker explained the parents were advised of the allegation and interviewed and the mother had no concern in relation to the Dad’s parenting of the children and said that at no time had he ever been aggressive to the children.
The social worker said Gardaí advised that their investigation is that of sudden death of an infant.
The judge said it is important to get the bottom of what happened. Expressing sympathy with the family, he said it must be hugely traumatic for the parents to be in a court in a foreign country and he said the reality was there could be a series of care orders.
Granting the Emergency Care Order, he said the court is hamstrung when it comes to this and we must ensure time is fully given to investigate what happened.