A 90-year-old Co Clare man and his wife, in her early 80s, are in the throes of divorce proceedings, a court has heard.
In a bitter family dispute that goes beyond the couple’s marital break-up and involves the couple’s adult children, the man has obtained a Protection Order against an adult daughter after he told the court that she “threatened to smash my face and I am concerned about my safety”.
In a separate action involving the family, the mother has obtained a Protection Order against a son of the couple, who farms land around the family home where the estranged parents live and where he provides support to his father.
The 90-year-old man required physical help from a Garda and his solicitor to make his way to a seat in the courtroom at the Family Law court at Ennis, while his estranged wife was unable to come to court due to her own health difficulties.
Shiofra Hassett, solicitor for the adult son, who was in court, said: “The father is 90 years of age. The parents are essentially separated and living in the same house, and they are in the throes of divorce proceedings in the circuit court.”
Ms Hassett told the court: “My client is continuing to try to support his father at the family home. He also works a farm, where the family home is situated, and is there on a daily basis.”
Aisling Carr, solicitor for the mother, who is now seeking a Safety Order against her son, told the court that her client suffers from a variety of medical conditions and “she is concerned that the son is not complying with [National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet)] guidelines when he is in the house”.
In response, Judge Mary Larkin stated: “Can I tell you that is nothing to do with the Safety Order. Don’t tell me he is not complying with Nphet regulations. I don’t want to hear about it. That is not violence.”
Ms Hassett said that the alleged breach of the Nphet guidelines is the basis for the Safety Order application against her client.
Ms Carr replied: “There are other issues but matters could be circumvented if the son undertakes to comply with the Nphet guidelines and undertakes to stay away from his mother when he is visiting his father.”
Judge Larkin stated: “This is a couple who just aren’t getting on and one side is supporting the other. There is conflict in the family.” The judge said she would be disinclined to make a Safety Order against the son as he is helping out his father. “I think the matter should be resolved by an undertaking.”
Judge Larkin told Ms Hassett to tell the son “to wear a mask if he is in the house. The parents are old”.
She said the Protection Order would continue for the mother against her son until the next court date and told the son “make yourself scarce is all I can say to you”.
Judge Larkin stated that if people don’t comply with the Covid 19 restrictions, it is a case of “‘keep on enjoying yourselves and you are going to kill your grannies’ -that is what is going to happen”.
Little bit of effort
She stated: “I think it is only fair that none of us can go dancing, singing and drinking for Christmas and that most of us who live with elderly people just make that little bit of an effort.”
Judge Larkin left her bench to go down to the body of the court in order to avoid "shouting" at the 90-year-old husband and father.
She adjourned the two Protection Order cases involving the mother against their son and the father against their daughter to next year.