Geatoir provides a Galway based independent advocacy for clients in child protection proceedings who have, or are thought to have, impaired cognitive functioning, intellectual disability or mental health concerns. The provision of an independent advocate for parents with impaired functioning is in common practice in the District Court in Dublin and the appointment of such a support role is provided for in the Legal Aid Board’s Circular 2/2007.
Deborah Nolan has over ten years’ experience working in child protection in diverse roles including advocacy and providing court reports and family assessments both directly for Tusla and other Family Support Agencies. She has worked extensively with parents coping with significant intellectual and social difficulties and have particular experience also as an advocate for parents from the Travelling Community.
The service of a support person for Legal Aid Board child care clients facilitates a more productive relationship with clients who understandably struggle to comprehend the process and legal information. The support person attends the following:
- A pre consultation with the solicitor
- Solicitor/Client consultations to include time with the client post consultation to review the information
- Court - to provide support and assist with explaining proceedings and court outcomes to the client
- Available to read reports and explain them to the client where required.
The support provided eases stress on the client and alleviates the additional time pressures experienced by solicitors engaged in this difficult area of law, by providing the reassurance that the client’s instruction is based on supported knowledge of the information and understanding of the solicitor’s advice to the client.