14 July 2005

No place in care unit for suicidal boy


**Here is an example of people not doing their jobs. The boy needs immediate help. He should NOT have to wait until August for a 'review' of his application in August. He is at risk NOW.

14/07/2005 - 12:43:40

The Ballydowd Special Care Unit, currently Ireland’s only secure facility that provides therapeutic intervention for children with serious emotional and behavioural problems, has rejected an application to take a 14-year-old boy who has tried to kill himself three times.

The north inner city boy has been held in custody for over two months in the Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre amid fears for his safety. He is facing a charge at the Dublin Children’s Court for handling a stolen bicycle, over which the issue of his fitness to plead has been raised.

Defence solicitor Michelle Finan told Judge Angela Ni Chonduin today that she had been contacted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and told that that the Ballydowd Special Care Unit had rejected the application to have the troubled boy placed there.

Two assessments, one conducted by and Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre, and another by a psychiatrist, concurred that the teen needed to be placed in a secure therapeutic environment and that a placement through the criminal justice system was not appropriate, the court had heard earlier.

Ms Finan said yesterday that the HSE had stated that it had not been provided with enough information in relation to the request to have the boy placed in the Ballydowd Unit, which is in west Dublin.

However, she added that the HSE is to hold a strategy meeting on Monday, with all relevant parties present, and are review the application in August.

“The Health Service Executive said they were acutely aware of the position he (the boy) is in, and they are endeavouring to find a placement for him,” Ms Finan told the court.

Rose Sweeney of the Special Residential Services Board said that presently, the Ballydowd Special Care Unit was the only facility that could provide the specialised therapeutic intervention needed.

Judge Ni Chonduin consented to a request from Ms Finan to adjourn the case pending the outcome of next week’s strategy meeting.

She said that it would have been very easy for the HSE to get the required information. Meanwhile, she added, the teenager has been in custody over two months.

“The health service executive needs to provide a secure therapeutic unit for this child, not in the criminal justice system,” she said adjourning the case.

The teenager has been involved in suicide attempts and incidents of self harm and his family fear for his welfare, the court had heard previously.

Earlier, his mother had told the court that she had been trying to get help for her son for since he was aged 10.

His school teacher had also said earlier that over the last two years she, with the boy’s mother, has attended numerous meetings with social services over him “but nothing has come out of it".

She had described the boy’s behaviour as “very extreme” and continued to say he had tried to commit suicide three times in school.

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