Editor’s Note: The events reported below have been the subject of much flurried reporting in the last few days. Before releasing this report, LifeSiteNews examined as many facts as possible, since despite the early reports, much confusion still remains about the particulars of the case. As readers will see, a parental custody dispute is involved. LifeSiteNews will provide updates on the matter as they come to light.
DUBLIN, Ireland, May 5, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Irish police have raided the house and removed the children of a man who one week earlier filmed the police entering a Catholic church and ordering worshippers to go home due to COVID-19 regulations.
At 3:30 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, May 1, Gardai Síochána (Irish Police) broke into the house of Pat Sweeney in Roscommon, and roused him and his two children out of bed.
The officers cited an “investigation” which they were carrying out under Section 12 of the Mental Health Act 2001, saying that they had “concerns” for his medical well-being, and for that of his children.
Promising more explanation at the station, they detained Sweeney and took him down to Longford police station. Sweeney stated that his sons, aged 11 and 5, were taken in their night clothes by officers, with the eldest being chased around the yard for some 15 minutes.
Upon arrival at the station, where he was allowed outside to smoke a cigarette, Sweeney was subsequently examined by a doctor. After being questioned by the doctor, he was declared medically fit and released, yet his children were not returned to him, due to concerns they expressed about Sweeney.
At no point was he arrested or charged with anything.
The Gardai informed Sweeney that they had responded to a call from a very concerned woman, who alleged to be worried about Sweeney and harm which he might do to his children. Law enforcement officers later disclosed that the call was reportedly from Sweeney’s mother, but Sweeney stated his mother had died in 1997.
Then, in a call to the solicitors representing Sweeney’s estranged wife, Gardai stated that they had actually been responding to a malicious call.
Multiple videos have emerged online and on social media documenting Sweeney’s interactions with the police in his attempt to discover the whereabouts of his children. Gardai were informing Sweeney that his children were under the protection of TUSLA, Ireland’s Child and Family agency, and that consequently the Gardai did not know where the children had been sent — despite taking the children from Sweeney and delivering them to TUSLA. Some have expressed concerns of corruption within TUSLA.
Despite the amount of footage, many significant details remain as yet uncertain and somewhat contradictory.
The Gardai informed Sweeney that there had been a court case on Saturday regarding the children, which Sweeney would have known about. Yet representatives from TUSLA stated that there was no court case about the children.
Following repeated questioning, and periods of being ignored by the Gardai, Sweeney was told that he had been originally detained by an inspector from nearby Castlerea Gardai, but when questioned by him, Gardai at Castlerea provided no further information.
Over the weekend, Sweeney was assisted by a number of activists and members of the National Party, in an effort to find and be re-united with his children. Among those who helped Sweeney was Justin Barrett, the leader of the conservative National Party and a pro–life advocate, and Philip Dwyer, also of the National Party.
Late in the evening of Monday, May 3, the children were finally returned to their mother, Sweeney’s ex-wife. Sweeney was not permitted to see them.
Much confusion surrounds the details of parental custody of the children and what role it played in the events, as this was seemingly used by the Gardai in their justification for the detaining of Pat Sweeney.
Sweeney’s ex-wife lives in France, and the family had lived together in France until an “unhappy difference” arose, and Sweeney was “asked to leave the home.” He returned to Ireland in early 2020.
The two children had been visiting Sweeney in Ireland in October, and were due to return to France on November 1. Once Sweeney learned of the new mask rules for schoolchildren in France, which would affect his oldest child, he had changed the agreement and kept the children with him, prompting a court challenge.
Sweeney argued for the children to remain with him until the mask mandate in French schools was over, while his former wife argued for their return to school in France.
A March ruling from the High Court (obtained by LifeSiteNews) went against Sweeney, rejecting his application for them to stay in the country until the mask mandate changed in France. A subsequent ruling on April 28 by the Court of Appeals reaffirmed this, adding that arrangements for the children’s return to their mother should be presented to the court by April 29, and in the absence of such plans, the court would give directions itself to ensure the “immediate return of the children.”
It is unclear whether a specific date had been given regarding the handover of the children to their mother.
However, Rebecca Barrett (Justin Barrett’s wife), who set up a GoFundMe account to support Sweeney, stated that he “was not in breach of a custody order when his children were taken from him in the middle of the night. The court had granted him a stay on them returning to France which had not elapsed.”
Barrett wrote that a stay on the children’s return had been granted and had lapsed only on May 4, some hours after the children were re-united with their mother in Ireland, and thus the Gardai had not been acting pursuant to a court order when they detained Sweeney.
In an interview on the afternoon of May 4, Sweeney noted that he had called his ex-wife shortly after being released by the Gardai, and she flew from France to retrieve the children from TUSLA, since Sweeney was not being allowed to learn of his children’s whereabouts. He added that they were on amicable terms.
He also hinted that there was an ongoing court decision which was yet to be released at the time of his detention, since he anticipated the court was due to rule against him, ending the stay on the decision and forcing him to return the children to France.
Sweeney had not as yet seen the children since they were taken from him by the Gardai, but was on his way to hand over their passports to his former wife, so that she could take the children back to France.
As of time of writing, the GoFundMe account has now been closed, with the required funds being contributed within around 24 hours.
Sweeney was reunited with his children on the evening of May 4, when he said goodbye before they departed with their mother to their home in France.
Potential police revenge?
Several commentators have pointed to an event which took place the previous weekend as the explanation for the bizarre raid on Sweeney’s house in the early hours of this most recent weekend.
Sweeney was the (completely unknown) individual who recorded footage of Gardai breaking into a Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) church in Athlone, while Confessions were being held. Sweeney himself can be heard conversing with the officers, although his identity is not revealed to the viewers at all.
The video subsequently went viral, prompting harsh criticism against the Gardai for enforcing a police state and a quasi-religious persecution.
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Members of the parish commented online that this was not the first time that the church had been reported, but due to the footage, it was the first time that news had spread in such a widespread manner. In fact, Sweeney’s footage appeared to cause awkwardness not only for the Gardai, but for the SSPX clergy themselves. One SSPX priest at the parish told LifeSiteNews that the matter had been blown out of proportion, and said that the church-raiding Gardai should actually be apologized to for how they had supposedly suffered at the hands of the media.
Days later, Sweeney’s house was raided by the police, and his children removed from his care, in what commentators have described as a revenge attack by the police in response to Sweeney’s anonymous footage of their raid in Athlone.
“This man dared to speak out against the regime and they came for his children. Have no doubt, fail to speak up now, let this continue to happen … and they will come for yours,” wrote Rebecca Barrett.
Donors to the funding page echoed Barrett’s words: “Terrorizing Mr. Sweeney was supposed to send a message to ALL of us: To never push back and defend our faith and freedom. Gardai were weaponized against the innocent for their global agenda — to make us all order follower slaves. Je suis Pat!”
It has also been suggested that since Sweeney had his children with him at confession in Athlone, he could have been considered a risk to their health and safety, since he was taking them to an event which is currently banned under the purview of COVID-19 prevention.
The Irish Students Against Globalism commented on the event: “The Irish state has made it clear with actions in Athlone that they will misuse legislation to confiscate children of political dissidents. Every fear people had about the referendum on children has been entirely validated.”
TUSLA and the abduction of Irish youth
Reporting on this incident, Anna Kavanagh of the Irish Inquiry pointed to disturbing proceedings of what amounted to child abduction by TUSLA. Partner foster care agencies are also involved, and they have custody of any children removed from their parents when TUSLA staff are off for the weekends. Kavanagh described it as a “massive, massive business.”
Speaking in general terms, she outlined the normal process when children are removed and not returned to their parents. Once the children are handed over to TUSLA, Gardai are not told what happens to the children.
For parents whose children are removed and not returned, they have to resort to a family law court, which requires them to have “very deep pockets,” in order to stand any chance against the TUSLA legal team. Even then, they could be outnumbered “by a ratio of about 1 to 10.”
TUSLA seek, and are almost guaranteed, an emergency care order which is granted on condition of parental capacity assessments. However, these are designed in such a way “that the parents fail,” stated Kavanagh.
“I have not met a single parent that has passed the parental capacity test, or the psychological report.” The process takes “years.”
If the issue is raised in the Dail (Ireland’s parliament), Kavanagh mentioned that the Minister for Justice states he can’t comment on individual matters, and that it is a matter for the Gardai. The Minister for Children replies similarly that he can’t comment on individual cases, and it is a matter for TUSLA.
The ombudsman for children is also prevented from becoming involved in the process until all other avenues have been exhausted.
Kavanagh mentioned the case of Maurice McCabe. McCabe blew the whistle on police corruption (which would ultimately lead to the resignation of the Fine Gael Minister for Justice Alan Shatter), and at the same time, TUSLA opened a file on McCabe alleging that he had sexually abused his children. A tribunal concluded that there was no collusion between the Gardai and TUSLA, but that the Gardai whistleblowing was concomitant with the allegations of child abuse.
Had Sweeney’s children not been returned to their mother, a family court would have been convened in-camera, and any members of the public who spoke publicly about the case could have faced jail time or a fine of €50,000.
Kavanagh has been trying to expose the failings of the family law courts and TUSLA for some years, and noted that the case of Pat Sweeney demonstrated how Ireland is “slipping more and more and more towards a police state.”
She urged people to email the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children, to express one’s feelings about the events seen this past weekend at Sweeney’s house.
To send respectful communication:
Minster for Children: [email protected]