Couple seek passport for surrogate baby daughter

Tue, Mar 1, 2011, 00:00

AN IRISHMAN and his EU citizen wife have brought a High Court challenge aimed at securing an Irish passport for their “stateless” baby daughter born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement with a woman in Ukraine.

The couple claim that if they cannot get the child out of the Ukraine, she could end up in an orphanage.

The court was told the the child, who was born in January last, has no right to remain in Ukraine for more than 90 days but is unable to leave there without travel documents.

The couple have applied for travel documents but the application has not yet been processed by the authorities here.

Lawyers for the family have been told the matter may have to be assessed by the Attorney General.

The applicants have brought proceedings against the Minister for Foreign Affairs for a court order compelling the Minister to provide an Irish passport or emergency travel certificate for the child.

Alternatively, they want orders directing the Minister to consider their application for travel documentation and to provide a reasoned decision on that.

They also want a number of declarations, including that any failure to answer speedily their application breaches the child’s rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights and breaches of fair procedures.

Leave to bring the proceedings was granted by Mr Justice Michael Peart following an ex parte (one side only) application yesterday.

Mary O’Toole SC, with Patrick O’Reilly, for the family, said her clients have serious concerns because the child is not entitled to Ukrainian citizenship and is essentially stateless.

Counsel said the case was urgent as the child was only entitled to remain in the country for 90 days and could be placed in a orphanage by Ukrainian authorities.

The court heard the child was born as a result of a surrogate arrangement with a Ukrainian woman facilitated by a clinic in that country.

Counsel said that the results of a DNA test show the man is 99.99 per cent likely to be the biological father of the child and that both he and his wife are registered on the child’s birth certificate as her parents.

The court heard the man’s wife is currently living in a flat in Ukraine with the baby and he is spending long hours travelling to and from Ukraine to visit them.

This was very distressful and upsetting for the couple, counsel said.

Following the child’s birth an application was made for emergency travel documentation but the couple were told in early February by the Minister’s department it was not possible at that time to complete the processing of that application.

A further application for a passport or an emergency travel document was made just over two weeks ago.

The couple had received no formal response to that request but their solicitors were informed by an official at the Chief State Solicitor’s office that the matter may have to be referred to the Attorney General.