A judge has ordered an independent investigation into the welfare of children who are living in a house with their grandparents who are involved in a bitter dispute.
At the Family Law Court in Ennis, Judge Mary Larkin ordered the report to be undertaken by the Child & Family Agency (CFA) after hearing of the living conditions at the home where two grandparents live in designated parts of the home and have agreed not to enter each other’s bedrooms or bathrooms.
The couple are married over 40 years and the grandfather has exclusive access to a bathroom in the house and this, the court heard, results in one other household member "taking showers in the middle of the night to accommodate the living arrangements”.
One-hour kitchen slots
The grandfather said an agreement in January brokered by an adult child that the couple have one-hour slots each in the kitchen during the day “to calm the whole lot down has worked for me”.
Two grandchildren under the age of 10 live in the small home and Judge Larkin has ordered that the CFA conduct a report on the welfare of the children and others at the home.
Judge Larkin said: “I want a proper investigation by the CFA in relation to whether the children are in a safe place in this house which sounds like, I won’t say - a madhouse. I don’t believe that, but obviously things aren’t well there.”
Judge Larkin was told that along with the grandparents, the grandchildren, there are two other adult relatives living in the home.
Addressing the grandparents. Judge Larkin stated: “Maybe the two of you should be sensible enough where one of you should apply for alternative housing.”
She said: “Both of you are bound by a Protection Order. The two of you are adults, behave like adults.”
The grandmother sleeps in the down-stairs sitting room that is converted into a bedroom.
She told the court: “The space I have is only the width of a single bed. I have nothing else. It is not ideal.”
The grandmother was bringing an application for a Safety Order against her husband.
Three years ago in the family court, the couple agreed to not enter each other’s bedrooms or bathrooms at their home and also gave sworn undertakings not to initiate any verbal abuse against each other.
Now, the woman was bringing a fresh Safety Order application.
The woman told Judge Larkin: “He calls me all the dirty filthy names under the rising sun. When he drinks, his mouth is so foul the neighbours can hear what he is saying.”
Solicitor for the grandmother, Pamela Clancy told Judge Larkin: “There are shared facilities in the house and there seems to be flashpoints where the parties cross paths and share facilities.”
Solicitor for the grandfather, Colum Doherty put it to the grandmother that his client hadn’t drank since January and in reply she said “Give me strength. No way.”
She added: “That is a load of codswallop. This morning, my daughter told me ‘he is gone to court with drink on him’ because there was a can below under his bed.”
The man denied drinking before court and told the court that he hasn’t drank since January.
Asked does she believe that the relationship is over, the grandmother replied: “No, I don’t believe it is over. I still love him. I have feelings for him.
“The only thing I would ask is that he stop drinking and stop calling me all the dirty names he is calling me. He belittles me. It is the drink that is talking not the man himself. He should get help for the drink.”
The grandmother said that her husband “locks the door at night-time between the bedroom and the kitchen - God forbid that something would happen to him in the room”.
Mr Doherty told Judge Larkin: “The relationship has broken down between the couple and what has happened doesn’t warrant a Safety Order. The only time my client raised his voice was to defend himself.”
Judge Larkin stated that the existing Protection Order would continue until the next court and adjourned the case to June 17th to allow the CFA carry out their investigation.