The mother of a girl said to have spent her childhood shut off from the outside world must be sent to the Republic for treatment, judges have ruled.
The girl's mother had been appealing against a court decision to separate them. But yesterday she lost her legal bid to keep the teenager here.
Senior judges upheld a verdict that the 13-year-old urgently needs to be sent to live at a Co Dublin facility in a bid to undo years of severe damage.
With no equivalent service north of the border, a health trust wants the girl - identified only as S - to stay at a special centre for seriously troubled children.
Lawyers for her mother could yet seek to go before the Supreme Court in a further attempt to block the move. Earlier this year, the High Court approved the separation plan after evidence was given of the teenager's unconventional upbringing, bereft of any real friends and entirely tutored by her 49-year-old mother - 'M' - at their home near Belfast.
After the first in a series of interim care orders was made, the mother and daughter were referred to a family centre on an emergency basis in March. The court heard how S was seen punching M and repeatedly acting hysterically.
Backing expert opinion that M and S need to be separated, a High Court judge ruled that it was in the girl's best interests to live outside Northern Ireland for some time. Both mother and daughter had opposed the move.
Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said lessons must be learned to ensure there is no repeat of the case.
"It is a very difficult situation for both social services and education boards to know the whereabouts of every child," he added.
"Overall, this is a sad situation and I would wish this girl well. Hopefully there will be learning points for social services, education people, police and others."