Irish children in British care placements will not be affected by no-deal Brexit, Tusla says

By Noel Baker
Senior Reporter and Social Affairs Correspondent

The Child and Family Agency has offered an assurance that any Irish child placed in a British care placement will not be affected by Brexit, in the event of no deal being struck.

The most recent data published by Tusla showed that as of the end of last year 22 Irish children were in out-of-state placements, the vast majority of which are understood to be in the United Kingdom.

The issue was raised last year in the context of comments by the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who asked the general solicitor for wards of court to write to the HSE in relation to steps it is taking to ensure the continuation of care placements for vulnerable Irish citizens placed in UK facilities post-Brexit, including those traumatised by sexual abuse.

While many Irish children are placed in overseas facilities by the High Court following application by Tusla, those placed in the St Andrew's Healthcare specialist service in Northampton are processed using mental health legislation.

With plans for Brexit in flux, Tusla said it is satisfied that Irish children will not be affected.

“All children placed out of State are currently placed under both EU Regulations and the Hague Convention (1980 & 1996) and relevant legislation in that context," a Tusla spokesman said.

"Even in the event of a 'no deal' scenario where EU Regulations may no longer apply, both Ireland and the UK will continue to be signatories to the Hague convention.

"It is through the Central Authority in both jurisdictions, under the provision of this legislation, that application for out of State placements are and can be facilitated.

Tusla continues to hold full statutory and regulatory responsibility for these children and placement are made only in exceptional needs based circumstances with the expressed intent of returning children to care within the Irish State or to support reunification home.

"Additionally, Tusla will be ensuring a Data Sharing Agreement is in place with all that all contracted services in the UK with the required model clauses to ensure that they are compliant with our standards on GDPR.

"In this context, there should be no legal or data protection impediments to ensure the effective placement of children abroad where in exceptional circumstances this is required."

Tusla has said it hopes to evolve domestic services so that no Irish child has to be placed overseas.

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