The only thing I wanted while growing up in Ireland was to be a Dad. Then in 1997 when my first born came along I thought ‘mission accomplished’, Oh boy , was I mistaken. The first time I held her I knew my life had changed dramatically in an instant, though I watched her kick inside her Mums womb and watched her settle as I sang in the final weeks , nothing had prepared me for the miracle that was now in my arms.
Just 18 months earlier her Mum had suffered a brain aneurysm and was at deaths door for some weeks, so it seemed as I held my daughter the night of her birth the vigil I kept and prayers I offered had being answered. Everything changes after your first child is born, football practice is forgotten, mates slowly disappear and you find yourself thinking about retirement pensions. In too short a time baby gurggles turn to words and uncertain first steps become strides but I loved every minute of it, then in 1999 God seen fit to send us another child, a sister to our eldest. Life was good but not without its trials and hardships, as my Granny would say “we’d never recognise the good if it weren’t for the bad’. The girls Mum and I at this stage were living in the same house, sleeping in the same bed, both working to keep afloat, her as a night Nurse and I was in construction during the day. To be honest we were the proverbial ships passing in the night, but we continued for the sake of our children.
Things came to a head early 2004 and I left the family home, I felt the constant tension and arguments left me with little option , so I rented a house and when their Mum was at work the girls came and stayed with me at night. This continued for 2 years until sadly in March 2006 my children’s Mother passed away , it was another brain aneurysm but this time it was fatal. My children’s maternal grandmother has always blamed me for J’s death and thought it prudent to tell my children the same on more than one occasion.
By this time I was in another relationship with a beautiful , intelligent lady from Wellington. So a few months after the funeral we decided to move from Ireland to NZ. It was going to be a fresh start for everyone and one we were all looking forward to. We landed in Tauranga, bought a business and a home, the girls went to the local Catholic school and instantly made a plethora of friends. We still owned (mortgaged) a property back home and for various reasons we returned to Ireland Christmas ’08. We had intended to stay only 9 months in order for me to do essential work on the house so that it met the new criteria that had been introduced for rental properties. We lived in the house while the work was underway. While there we opened what is known here as a ‘headshop’ (think Cosmic Corner ) and it proved to be a very profitable affair.
It also brought a visit from social workers whose employers were the main agitators in making the products we sold illegal. In hindsight we should have left Ireland then but the income from the shop was unreal considering the little work we had to put in so we decided to stay for another few months knowing a complete ban on the products we sold was in the works. When the social workers called initially , I openly clashed with one of them, this set in motion events that would eventually led to my children’s removal on an ECO from our home in March 2010. The first few days after they were taken were very difficult, I couldn’t bare being in the house, I couldn’t bare going to work, I couldn’t contact my children and had no idea what was going on, I reached for a bottle instead of seeking legal advice.
My wife and I had a surprise holiday booked for my youngest child’s birthday and foolishly I jumped on the plane intending on getting away from the house if only for a few days to gather my thoughts and re-position. Fate proved otherwise however and not long after arriving at our destination a volcano in Iceland erupted, grounding all flights back to Europe. The family conference went ahead without us as did the first court case despite social services and the court being made aware we were unable to fly home. I spent those 3 weeks in a drunken stupor all the while my wife was desperately trying to get us home by any and all means.
When finally we did get home after 3 weeks it was the morning of the second court case. My solicitor failed to turn up and in his stead he sent an Intern who had no knowledge of our case, she informed she was seeking an adjournment to which I refused, I wanted things brought to a head but she convinced me that a months delay would be in the “best interest of the children” , first time I had heard that mantra. I gave in to her request only to discover the judge had now adjourned it for 2 months.
I was distraught, as was my wife. I went home drew the curtains and drank myself sick for about 3 weeks, when I sobered I couldn’t bare to be in the house , my girls pictures were everywhere, their stuff was all over the house and I couldn’t take it, so I did what most idiots do, I jumped on another plane and landed this time in Sicily, my drinking was now 24/7 and my mental state was very weak. I attempted suicide and awoke in a Psyche ward while in Sicily, because of this and my failing health due to excessive drinking I was refused permission to fly back to Ireland.
My wife faxed all the hospital documents to our newly appointed solicitor who we told to seek an adjournment but the judge disregarded them, she put my children into the full time “care” of the Irish state that day. So we never actually had our day in court save for one time it got adjourned. From the ECO to the final “care” order only 3 months had elapsed. I convinced the Doc I was fit to be released and following that returned to Ireland to lodge an appeal. I sacked the solicitor , took all the files from his office and set about putting the facts together so that I could represent myself. The appeal was set for November.
In September a fire gutted our home and we lost everything, all our treasures and more importantly every paper we had concerning the courts. We left for NZ a couple of weeks later, whatever fight I had left was now gone. January 2011 we decided I needed intervention for my alcohol use so she booked me into a clinic in Thailand for 3 months.I got asked to leave after 48 hours after coming back to the retreat drunk. For the next 14 months we stayed in Asia , settling in Cambodia. My drinking had taken over everything, but my wife stayed regardless though she wouldn’t be what you would call a drinker. I’d be dead 20 times over if it had not being for her love.
We went to the UK in 2012 and managed a pub for 6 months before returning to NZ that November. I was drinking a litre of whiskey most days , often without getting drunk. By now my health had severally deteriorated and I also had a prolapsed disc which made work impossible, I had an operation for it in Auckland 2013. My drinking continued and brought me into conflict with the police on a couple of occasions but try as I did I either couldn’t or didn’t want to give it up. We moved around NZ a lot from 2012 – 2014, I found it difficult to settle in any given area. Over 4 yrs had passed since the girls were removed from our care and in September ’14 I decided to go home to visit my Mother, but also to take care of business regarding our home, tenants had just moved out and had wrecked the place. I thought I may be able to exorcise the ghosts that haunted me and I’d be able to draw a line under Ireland forever. Events proved otherwise.
On arrival in Dublin I was met by 6 policemen as I get off the plane, I was arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing my daughters. I want to say here that these accusations being leveled at me were false and malicious. I was brought to my local police station and questioned for 36 hours, eventually I was released without charge but was now in a living hell. I stayed in Ireland for a month and after locking up our home I left once again for NZ, my wife stayed behind in Hawkes Bay that trip , and I was glad to be home in her arms. The main purpose of the visit to Ireland was to put things into some kind of perspective so that I could get on with my life which had being on hold the 4 years previous. I came back with a hell of a lot more baggage than I had left with and set about my own destruction once again.
My youngest child remained in contact with us throughout those 6 yrs she was in “care”, many times pleading to come home but never wanting me to instigate legal proceedings. She told us of her self-harming and suicide attempts, she told us of the fear she had that social workers would find out we were in contact, she told of the medication she was forced to take and the bullying she received in the psychologists chair. She was moved from one foster home to another, had being expelled from school and was desperately unhappy. We were her go to people when she needed help, all of this contact happened via facebook and telephone. It’s a difficult job trying to parent an adolescent via social media 15,000kms away, nevertheless we done what we could and respected her wishes not to interfere.
That was until 6 weeks ago, her last message to me was “I love you to NZ and back many times over”, two days later her boyfriend phoned to say she had being taken by police to a location unknown. I made frantic calls back to Ireland and eventually found out she was taken on a high-court order and placed into a residential unit for “troubled teens” , she had committed no crime except for the fact she was only 17 and the social workers couldn’t control her, so to cover their arses should she get in trouble they had her locked up until she reaches her 18th B’day this coming April. Within a few days of finding this out my wife and I boarded a plane and went back to Ireland in order to get our child out of the kiddie prison she now found herself in.
Before we left I had written a strong letter to the children’s ombudsmans office , also one to the regional head of the child protection team who had failed in their duty to her. We seen a solicitor a couple of days after arriving and were waiting for him to get back to us with news of our child. Two days later I was arrested at my Mothers home and charged with 13 counts of rape.
I’m on bail awaiting the book of evidence which is supposed to be served 22nd Nov. I have all of the correspondence documented and recorded that took place between ourselves and our child. In it she retracts her statements to police, when my wife asked her why she made these claims she says she can’t remember. The accusations span the years 2006 -2010 and most were said to have happened in NZ, the police did interview friends of our over there but never once came to us.
There is so much more to the story but I could be here forever writing so I’ll finish for now, except to say any advice is most welcome, we may need legal representation there too, my Barrister is to contact me this week and I’ll have a better idea afterwards. My eldest is in college studying to be a social worker and wants nothing to do with us, she made one accusation. I want to reiterate here, i’m innocent of these vile charges and intend to prove it so, I won’t settle until there is a full investigation into the initial contact with social workers, their fast-track through the courts and the years of psychological abuse they’ve brought on my child. I have no doubt these allegations were conceived in the warm surroundings of her psychologists office , it wouldn’t be the first time in Ireland such things have happened (search Dr Moira Woods).
Thank you for taking the time to read this and may God give you the strength to overcome your own trials.