Judge Neilan launched a stinging attack on the HSE when he read how a man who had been in their care for eight years was functionally illiterate.
He said he noted reports presented on behalf of Patrick Conlon and said the defendant’s life was “a sad reflection on the competence of the HSE”.
Reading from the report he said that his literacy skills were below the level of functional ability, that he recognised some letters and had been able to print his name.
“How in God’s name does the HSE account for a young man in its care for eight years?” he asked.
He said the young man, now in his early 20s had made a few mistakes which were not serious.
“The biggest mistake was made by the HSE in their dealing with you,” he said adding that it was a matter for him and his sisters to consider how they wished to deal with that.
Mr Conlon, who has an address at 15 Grange Meadows appeared before the judge at Christmas 2007 when he arrived in Mullingar and “had to steal to get a few bits to eat” because he had been put into independent living in Navan when he had no connection to the area and was not able to live independently.
“Of course there were 40 in the room when the decision was made and none will take responsibility,” he said of that HSE decision.
The only place the judge could get him a bed was at St Patrick’s Institution.
He advised Mr Conlon to raise his expectations of life to more than washing cars and criticised the HSE whose responsibilities over the last five and 10 years were now being undertaken by the Sisters of Charity.
“What in God’s name were the HSE at?” he asked in relation to Mr Conlon’s literacy, saying that there are 166 TDs and a number of senators who “couldn’t care less. Patrick means nothing to them”.
“But in this court Patrick does mean something. He is equal to anyone,” he said, refusing to finalise the case.
“If I let it drop now with the Probation Act, how can I guarantee the HSE won’t drop the same baton again?” he asked.
“Only for me he would be in St Pat’s and left back on the street,” he added.
“I’m trying to motivate not Patrick, but the statutory body,” he said adding that the constitution states that all children should be cherished equally.
“How can that be in the case of the HSE?” he asked.
“There is no reason to keep the cases alive,” he said. “But if I set you out, the HSE will file you as a ‘miscellaneous event’ and you’ll never be seen again until you’re back here again”.
“I want you to be able to read and write,” he said adjourning the case to June 2010.