In November 2013 , Gardai issued a nationwide alert for a missing Roscommon woman and her three children . They were later found safe and well in Fermanagh . The Woman's name was Fiona Gregg . This is the last time Fiona would be together with her children as a family .
Here is Fiona's full story in her own words .
I moved to county Roscommon in 2008 as a lone parent with two of my children. I qualified as an EMT but shortly after that I got ill with gallstones.
When the doctor advised me I'd need to have my gall bladder removed, I contacted local social workers because I had no one to care for my kids while I was going to be recuperating.
Naively I gave social workers access to my medical records and when it was discovered that I had a breakdown in 2000, instead of a voluntary care arrangement, the HSE obtained a 3 month care order against me.
When I passed a mental health assessment, the judge returned my kids to me.
I thought that was the end of my nightmare but sadly it was only the start.
From 2009-2013, I had public health nurses and social workers hounding me with visits and phone calls. There was never any respect shown for our right to a private family life as enshrined in our constitution and human rights laws. Records were kept of our lives without my knowledge with surveillance so extreme it broke international privacy laws because in those 5 yrs the HSE had no supervision order in place so their actions were well outside the law.
In January 2012 my last child was born but during the birth I suffered horrific injuries that only came to light weeks later. For almost two yrs. I was in and out of hospital undergoing treatment to save my left kidney. I practically begged for home help but the HSE refused on the grounds that I wasn't over 65yrs. Old. All four of us were suffering: my son K, my daughter E and my daughter D and myself. I used to have to ask neighbours to take care of the children when I had hospital stays overnight. Public health nurses were calling but not to support us, rather to condemn us.
One harrowing incident comes to mind: a public health nurse I will refer to as C called one day and my son was holding the baby. She roared at him to put the baby down and I could see he was upset. He was a young boy who was a fantastic help to me. I wanted to give her a piece of my mind but I knew if I did, it would be reported back to social workers.
Skip onto November 20th 2013, it was a week after I had been "invited" to a case conference at which I had tried to record the meeting but was told the meeting could not proceed with me recording it. When I left the building, it was held behind my back.
There I sat in Tuam court on my 41st birthday waiting all day for my case to be called. The HSE applied for back-to-back interim and full care orders for my three children. I felt like I was fighting for the survival of my family while I was also dealing with the strain of having a metal stent in my left ureter.
The HSE secured a supervision order against me. I got home near 9pm that night. The kids had beautiful "happy birthday" banners made. My son said "but Mammy you've no cards or presents". I replied " but I have ye and ye are the best presents ever"! My heart was breaking in that moment because I knew I couldn't satisfy the supervision order.
2 days later I was taken by ambulance to hospital because the metal stent had migrated to my bladder. It was removed at midnight and 9hrs later 2 social workers were in my kitchen talking to me.
On November 26th , I fled with my three children to Northern Ireland. An illegal C.R.I. alert was issued and I was arrested in Enniskillen and the children illegal removed from my care based on an Irish emergency district court care order. There was collusion without a doubt.
I passed a mental health assessment and in the year that followed I passed a psychiatric, psychological and parenting capacity assessment but my family has never been reunited.
In all I endured 5 mental health assessments. I have no history of alcohol or drug abuse.
I have been through the district court, the circuit court, the high court, the court of appeal and now I am awaiting the outcome of a Supreme court hearing. Sadly that only relates to access issues because we only had 5 hrs per year access as a family together and that is with 2 supervisors present. I stopped attending access in September because the unreasonable terms became too much to bear emotionally and psychologically. Also the intimidation by certain social workers just got too much.
I have 2 older sons, one of whom has never seen his siblings in 4 yrs. Last year when I brought my oldest son to access, I was denied access with K and E. It felt like I was being punished for just wanting them have a little time together as they have a legal right to.
Sometimes I dream of my children and then I wake up alone and my heart feels torn apart. Its almost like its better not to dream of them because then my day becomes even more hellish because it reminds me I'm in a waking nightmare.
My deepest felt gratitude to you for allowing me this space to tell my story. I had lobbied mainstream media for the past 4 yrs. Desperately looking for an opportunity to tell the truth behind my wrongful arrest. I also lobbied public representatives in the Dail but it seems the three arms of the State thought this injustice could be swept under the carpet.
That indicates deep corruption and collusion in this country and I am not willing to sit by while my family is in tatters to facilitate that cover-up. I've given 4 yrs of my life to this battle and I have absolutely no regrets. I stood up to the corruption and now I am speaking out because what has been inflicted on our family will be done to other families too as long as the public are not made aware of it.
Darkness thrives in secret.
There is a message I want to say to other parents of children in state care "hold onto hope every day and don't let go of it no matter what".
I went all the way to the Supreme court and submitted three applications to the European court of human rights but I got zero progress with access arrangements or family reunification. I found the Supreme court judgement both heartbreaking and shocking because basically it sets the precedence now that Tusla can allow family access to be as low as five hours a year for any family in Ireland from now on. That violates the law that states "access must be reasonable" but unless it is challenged in the Dail it will go ahead and despite the fact that the Irish times published an article on the judgment no politician has ever contatced me to address this huge injustice that will now become airtight for Tusla.
The reasoning given by a solo judge for the rejection of my application to the European Court of human rights was pathetic- it stated that I had not raised the human rights issues involved at national level in the Irish courts. I have documentary evidence to prove that is a blatant lie. It was disappointing to discover even the international human rights courts do not want to touch this case because they know damn well it stinks of corruption at the highest level of our goverment bodies including the three arms of it- the judiciary, the legislatory and the administrative bodies beginning with my illegal arrest in a British jurisdiction.
Plus I discovered something else recently that left me reeling- my daughter who was slightly injured when I suffered horrific injuries due to negligence during her birth could take a case against the state in her own right. However because any access is always heavily supervised I cannot discuss that matter with her on a one to one basis. Are the state deliberately trying to limit the legal actions my family takes against it by keeping my children in state care and hoping the whole nightmare will stop me from proceeding with my medicial negligence claim? The truth will win out, they can´t hide it forever, either from my children or from the general public.
I gave five years of my life to fighting to get my children back and I gave everything emotionally, mentally and financially. I have no regrets. Despite everything I still hold onto hope that one day we will be back together again and they will know the truth- that the Irish state abducted them from me with the blessing of the Irish judiciary. I love them beyond words and I will never get back the time I have been robbed of with them but I believe our love is stronger than most families because the absence and distance between us has given us deep appreciation for glimpses of shared happiness we get once in a blue moon.
If you could publish this as a follow up piece online I would be delighted. My love to all families torn apart by heartless state officials on power trips who show no support for families in crisis and instead act callously and maliously towards them. Tusla has become an organisation misguided beyond belief when in reality it has the potential to do so much good in Ireland for disadvantages families.