Early morning. Driving to Castlebar from Claremorris. Lots of memories on a 30 kms drive. My father in hospital in Castlebar when Alicia was about 4. His last visit to Ireland and himself being 83, or 84. Memories are fading on me already; it might be the morning mist, the thin rain with its unique sound, like a serpent looking at you and deciding whether to snap at you or just keeping you suspended, fearing its attack to come any minute. Or hour. Or week. Or month. Or year.
Time, that seems slow and crystallized into its daily rhythms, actually goes fast and faster: I haven’t seen Alicia in almost three years, my father died three and a half years ago, I married three years ago, I haven’t been properly talking to Alicia for six years, I haven’t been on this road in two and a half years: it seems all unchanged if you just look at all those abandoned famine cottages, all plunged in a swamp of stillness. All covered by a preserving mist, like a film of sleep distilled from the deep bog water, which surround our lives, go round all at the same spin. Wake up. Go to work. Go back home. Interact with your family. Eat. Go to bed. Groundhog back again.
We park in front the Court and have proper breakfast at the Rua Café, myself and Francesca barely speaking to each other, shortly commenting on the menu. We treat ourselves with good traditional Irish breakfast; I guess we’ll need a lot of energy by sitting down and waiting for the Judge to decide about what the future between me and my daughter, our whole family in Italy, is going to be. I was very good at sitting down. That was what I have done each time I’ve come here to Ireland, parked near the Court, got a coffee at the Rua Café, waited for the Court to happen, wait back in a room for solicitors to talk, negotiate, come back to me, made me think, take decision, come back to the other room, talk, negotiate, go back into the Courtroom, sit, wait. Listen. Listen. Understand. Until it was time for me to stand up and talk.
I am here Judge because I do care about my daughter.
I am aware that I was not able to establish a constant relationship with my daughter but I am also at peace with my conscience for having tried constantly and hard to be an active part of her life, albeit the physical distance separating us.
Although in the first seven years of my daughter’s life I was granted regular access to my daughter’s house and was therefore able to spend some limited but quality time with her, as the years went by the time and space granted to me by my daughter’s mother were every time more limited and shorter. In more than one occasion I was not allowed to see my daughter although I had come to Ireland with that sole purpose.
Right after I made the application to have the Legal Guardianship granted, I was not answered my telephone calls for some months, my daughter was nervous when she saw me, I was not allowed to see her in her house anymore, except for one occasion, in which she was constantly monitored by her mother and her grandmother.
Other attempts at having access or visit resulted in even worst fails.
I have made attempts to re-establish a relationship with my daughter Alicia at different times and involving different actors, but with extremely poor results. I have failed, and failed again.
After the last unsucceful attempt at having an access in September 2014, I – in accordance with and following the advice of the psychologist appointed by the Court Dr. D.– have decided to take a step back and not insist in claiming that my and my daughter’s right to have a serene relationship was enforced. I haven’t come to Ireland since and have reduced the evening telephone access calls to one or two per month, as per advice received and I have done so in the best interest of my daughter, assuming that the other parent was not fully aware of the damage that was provoking to our daughter with her oppositive behaviour. I have received little if no information at all about my daughter’s life, have never heard her voice on the telephone, except for one single occasion in 28 months, on her 12th birthday last December.
Now, always in the light of pursuing the best interest of Alicia, I know the moment has come for me to step in and become the active party in her upbringing I was denied to be so far.
I am therefore more than ready, in full accordance to my wife and family, to take part into the discussion about the possible solutions for her present predicament, including the possibility of obtaining her legal custody.
Myself and my wife are ready to participate in the necessary talks with psychologists, counsellors, social workers and solicitors with the aim of finding the best solution for Alicia.