An Ulster couple had their three young children taken into protective custody after getting so drunk they passed out while holidaying in Portugal, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.
It is understood the youngsters, aged one, two and six years-old were temporarily taken into care after their parents, believed to be from Maghera, Co Londonderry, got tanked up on cheap booze on their first night in the Algarve last Friday.
Eyewitnesses said the couple had been drinking at a bar with a happy hour until 8pm where a pint of lager costs just one euro.
When they returned to their hotel in Vilamoura the father collapsed and vomited in the lobby while the mother staggered into the bar with her children where she fell into a chair and also vomited. Horrified hotel staff called the police who took the children to safety.
The alarming revelation came as the world marked the first anniversary of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, which also occurred at a Portuguese holiday resort.
The toddler was snatched from an Algarve apartment while her parents were in a restaurant.
Locals said the Northern Ireland couple were rushed to a health centre at Loule while their children were taken to the Refugio Aboim Ascensao children’s home in Faro. Dr Luis Villas-Boas, the home’s director, described the incident as “very very shocking”.
He said: “It is the first time it has happened in my 22 years working at this home.
“It was extreme neglect and abandonment. I hope somebody carries this information to the UK so these parents can at least be seen because these children are indeed at risk.”
The couple had arrived with their children at the Aparthotel Mourabel in Vilamoura on Friday for a one-week holiday.
The parents had been drinking at a bar with a happy hour until 8pm and the husband collapsed in the hotel reception while his wife staggered into the bar with her children and fell into a chair.
Local police in Vilamoura said they were called as the children were crying and couldn’t wake their parents.