A young child was taken away from his loving grandparents in Ireland and put into foster care because they were called “too old” to look after the child by Tusla, the government child welfare agency. The grandparents are both in their mid-sixties.

The couple had letters from their doctors, parish priest and school principal saying the child was incredibly well looked after.

A pediatrician found the child had stopped wetting the bed and was healthy and secure with his grandparents who are in very good health. The grandparents are now running out of money to pay the lawyers working on their case.

TheJournal.ie, the online newspaper, broke the story and it makes the blood boil.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is empowered by the Irish government to make such decisions.

They must have hearts of stone and be the worst bureaucrats in Ireland if they think this somehow is a sane decision.

The letter from the pediatrician urged that the child’s situation should not change: “I would therefore be strongly opposed to any attempt to move [the child] from its present placement. Moving [the child] from this environment would be detrimental to [the child's] welfare.

The child’s school principal also testified to the child being “very happy.”

Despite these testimonies, Tusla knew best and removed the child from the only home the child had ever known. It beggars belief.

It is the kind of boneheaded and high-handed decision you might have expected in the Magdalene Laundry era from some benighted nun, but surely not today.

Tusla told TheJournal.ie there are guidelines in operation that are preferable not to place a child in a home where there is a 40-year age gap or more between the carers and the foster child. The letter from Tusla to the grandparents saying they would not be considered as foster parents is a classic case of bureaucratic gobbledygook:

“Without doubt your love of [child's name] has not and is not in question. I know that you want the best for [this child]… as [child's name] grandparents you should and will play a significant role in [the child's] life – we recognize the importance of this relationship for both you and [child's name] and that relationship should be preserved and promoted as a grandparent relationship.

“However, you will not be approved as foster carers for [the child].”

Documents and correspondence from Tusla, seen by TheJournal.ie, list “your age” as a reason for taking the child away, with the following explanation to the grandparents: “Your age especially giving consideration to [child's name] young age – Fostering Standards specified that carers should be of an age that ensures there is a reasonable expectation that they can provide adequate care for the foster child in the future. It is recommended that there be no more than a 40-year age gap between foster carers.”

The letter acknowledges the “emotional attachment” the grandparents have to their grandchild, but said, “It is unreasonable to consider … you would have the same physical and emotional energies required to parent a teenager to the levels required of you in accordance with fostering standards.”

The grandparents protested but in vain. Despite assurances that communication would be continued between the child and relatives, access has been restricted say the grandparents.

“We have visitation but we want the child back and our grandchild is mad to come back to us, the child is not happy where it is,” the grandfather said.

“The law will have to be changed for grandparents. I have more rights to my dog than I do to my own grandchild. Isn’t that a sad case? Something is wrong in this country.

“We are honest people, I’ve never been in court in my life. All we want is for our grandchild to come back to us,” the grandfather said.

“We cherish and adore this child, our number one pride and joy. We just want to see our grandchild develop and grow up to be a good citizen some day. But now we have been robbed of our greatest treasure.”

The biological mother has deep psychiatric problems and the father is absent. The child is now in foster care in another county.

Heads should roll and the child should be returned to the only source of love it has ever received. But the government has set up an internal board within Tusla to examine the agency’s decision.

They are as likely to find against their own agency as I am to be elected president of Zimbabwe – for life.