A Co.Clare court heard how a 10-year-old was left to care for her six younger siblings while her mother went on drinking binges with her partner.
The mother, now 39, has pleaded guilty to neglect and ill-treatment of five girls and two boys at different periods from Mar 2001 to July 2010, the Irish Examiner reports. Her partner, who is father to the six youngest children, also pleaded guilty to the same offences on Monday.
Dressed in her school uniform the girl, now 17, told Ennis Circuit Court in Clare how she was left to care for her new prematurely born sister.
“I was 10 years old. How I was supposed to know how to look after her? She was being neglected by her biological mother and left in my care.
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“I didn’t know how to hold her or change her nappy. We didn’t have proper things like a bottle, a steriliser, a cot.”
The teenager described her mother as “vermin.”
“She is very good at manipulating people,” she added.
“She warned us when social workers came out to the house to say that everything was fine and if we didn’t say that the social workers would take us away and burn the house down.”
The court heard how the mother in question had another child in Sept 2011 with a new partner.
In her victim impact statement, the 17-year-old girl told the court she believed her mother had children so she could claim child benefit.
“I had to look after my brothers and sisters while they went out drinking. I was beaten when things did not go right.
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“What kind of parents are they? They used to go out drinking during the day. There was no food in the house. I used to ask the local shopkeeper to give us a few things until Thursday, because that was dole day.
“The Child Care Act says that every child has the right to live. Mine was denied to me. My mother and her partner used to leave the house and expect me to get the kids ready for school when they went off drinking every morning.
“I used to leave my baby sister on her own with a bottle and come back at break time and see if she was okay. We would be left hours with no food. They never cared for us.
Addressing Judge Carroll Moran, the school girl said: “Judge, do you see how cruel they were to me and my brothers and sisters. All my life, no one listened to me.”
“Don’t let my mother go free and unpunished. These people are vermin, they don’t care about anyone except themselves, they should rot in hell.”
Garda Róisín Ní Chatháin told the court alcohol was a huge factor in the case and that the mother would drink every day. It is understood the defendant is now sober.
Judge Moran described it as a difficult case and adjourned sentencing to February 25.