herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Couple fled here after social services told mum she wasn't clever enough to keep child

HAPPY ENDING: Family settled after move from Scotland

THIS young family desperately fled to Ireland from Scotland after social services said that mum Kerry Robertson was not intelligent enough to keep her child.

Kerry and Mark McDougall have now finally fulfilled their wish of a fairytale wedding and are starting their new life in Waterford with nine-month-old son, Ben.

Kerry (18) has mild learning difficulties and Fife Council officials in Scotland previously claimed that she "did not understand the implications of getting married".

Banned

The McDougalls said that they would never return to the UK where they were banned from marrying and were told their child would be taken from them once he was born.

The couple, who married at the Armada Hotel in Waterford, have now happily settled into their new home in Tramore.

Mark (26) said that they frantically made the decision to travel to Ireland when Kerry was told her child would be put in foster care.

"It was our only option, we just had to get out of there," he told the Herald. "It was more common sense than anything.

"The social services told us flat out that our child would be taken from us."

Mark, an artist, said that they had heard cases of hundreds of families from the UK travelling to Ireland and decided to take the plunge.

Kerry missed a lot of school when she was being treated for a cleft palate and suffers from mild learning difficulties.

But she has worked as a special needs assistant in a primary school in Scotland and now hopes to return to study childcare in Waterford.

The Scottish family said that they understand there are strict rules governing social services, which are necessary to prevent children being harmed.

But they said that Kerry had every right to start her own family.

"It's never black and white," Mark said. "There was absolutely no concern about bringing up our children. Over here, they try to keep families together, they genuinely do," he said.

The couple admitted that they desperately miss their family and friends in Fife, but that the Irish community had welcomed them with open arms.

Smiling

And a big Scottish contingent travelled over for the wedding a few weeks ago. This was the first time they saw their family since they fled their home town.

"We live in a really nice community and the people have been really friendly," Mark said. "I wasn't too fussed about telling people, but Kerry told everyone our story the minute we moved in."

The couple said that they appreciate their time with nine-month-old Ben more than ever.

"I'd say that he's more like his mum -- he's really happy and always smiling," Mark said.

"We wouldn't go back to the UK if our lives depended on it," he added.

"We are petrified of what could happen to stop us from keeping our baby.

"Sometimes I can't believe we managed to get out of that place to come here."

A representative for Fife Council in Scotland said: "No conclusions had been reached as there was no opportunity to assess Kerry's capacity as a parent before she left the country.

"Whilst Kerry was in Scotland her welfare and that of her unborn child were foremost in our considerations."

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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