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Judge slams TUSLA: “habit of splitting siblings, heaping one trauma on top of another”

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A judge has slammed the child protection agency TULSA for what he described as using the “might of the state” to continue a  “habit of splitting siblings, heaping one trauma on top of another”

Judge Desmond Zaidan. said that it was the “First Commandment” not to split up siblings and said he laid “all the blame on TUSLA”.

According to the Kildare Nationalist Judge Zaidan was speaking of a ‘very rare’ case where two older teen siblings that had been placed with one foster family were seeking to be unified with their younger sibling who had been placed with a different family for four years.

“You have not given me a reason in law for [TUSLA] splitting the children,” the judge said, “and the only reason you’ve given me is a flimsy one”.

“THAT is the First Commandment – you do not split children,” Judge Zaidean told a TUSLA representative at Naas Family Law Court on Nov 3rd.

“You guys are the might of the State,” he said. “You have all the money, all the staff…and it looks like kids being used as a commodity,” he said.

The court heard that shortly after the four-year old was born all he was placed with another family, and that the mother of all three children was now in prison.

TUSLA was expected to follow on with the re-unification of all three children, but the court heard that because of a “miscommunication” between departments at the agency, the youngest boy has been entirely raised by this other family.

A solicitor for Tusla said that the young boy’s social workers believed moving the child now would be traumatic and detrimental to him.

“Why has TUSLA this habit of splitting siblings, heaping one trauma on top of another?” asked the judge. “In reality and law, can you tell me how would it have been detrimental [four years ago] to have put him in the home with his siblings?”
“Any trauma is because of you,” said the judge, according to the Kildare Nationalist.

He was sharply critical of TUSLA, saying: “The problem with TUSLA is there’s no cop on, no reflection on reality – everything by the book, but life isn’t like that.”

“If the other family said they couldn’t take another sibling, you should’ve found a family that could,” he continued.

“By nature a child has the right to be with siblings. By nature, not by law,” said Judge Zaidan. “This is a mess created by TUSLA,” he added.

“TUSLA is a monopoly – the only agency in the State to look after kids. The Constitution has given them this, which I don’t agree with,” he said.

With the agreement of all parties, he then ordered an independent child psychologist  be appointed to look into the pros and cons of re-unification, and to bring their report back to court on 23 November.

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