Tuesday, 21 March 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: asked the Minister for Health what action the Eastern Health Board propose to take in the case of two children who have been abandoned in Dublin and whose parents are reported to have reclaimed them.
Minister for Health (Mr. Childers): I am not aware that, as the Deputy suggests, the children's parents have reclaimed them but I understand that the Eastern Health Board have instituted inquires and until these have been concluded it will not be possible to take a definite decision about the children's future.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: I am sure the Minister agrees that there is widespread anxiety in this case arising out of an earlier case in which triplets were reclaimed by the parents who abandoned them and subsequently one of those triplets died in tragic circumstances. Would the Minister state whether, if the parents who abandoned these children reclaim them, the parents  have the right automatically to recover them irrespective of their fitness or otherwise? Would he also state, if this is the case, whether he proposes to make any change in the law?
Mr. Childers: I am afraid I could not answer the Deputy in detail with regard to that. This whole matter is in the hands of the Eastern Health Board and I would not want to intervene unless there was some indication that the wrong action had been taken. The Eastern Health Board are in touch with the welfare authorities in Britain and I think that some of the statements made in the papers about the intentions of the parents are not necessarily accurate. The matter is being examined by the Eastern Health Board.
Dr. Cruise-O'Brien: Is the Minister aware that the concern felt about this case arises precisely out of the uncertainty, which the Minister himself appears to share, as to what will be the position if the parents—who, prima facie, if the reports are correct, would be unfit to look after these children— reclaim the children? Do they automatically get them back? Is that the case?
Mr. Childers: Not so far as I am aware. If the parents are regarded as unsuitable the children can be placed in the care of a health authority, as the Deputy knows. If the parents are regarded as suitable and wish to have the children back then they can be given the children. The matter is under examination.
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