Boy to get vaccinations against mother’s wishes following High Court decision

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said yesterday he did not accept a mother’s rights outweighed a father’s in cases of conflict over children

Mr Justice Moriarty ruled there was no error of law or breach of fair procedures in how the Circuit Court decided the matter

Mr Justice Moriarty ruled there was no error of law or breach of fair procedures in how the Circuit Court decided the matter

Fri, May 17, 2013, 01:00

A five-year-old boy may get his Four in One and MMR vaccinations against his mother’s wishes following a decision of the High Court yesterday.

The boy’s parents were not married but were in a 10- year relationship which broke down in 2009. The HSE and the boy’s father supported him getting the vaccinations, and Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said yesterday he did not accept a mother’s rights outweighed a father’s in cases of conflict over children.

The case was not about the merits of the vaccinations but whether the Circuit Court was entitled to make an order under the Guardianship of Infants Act permitting the vaccinations as in the best interests of the child.

Mr Justice Moriarty ruled there was no error of law or breach of fair procedures in how the Circuit Court decided the matter. He has put a stay of 28 days on his order permitting the vaccinations to allow the mother consider an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The judge heard evidence from both parents in the mother’s appeal against the Circuit Court order last year that the boy was to be given the vaccinations under the HSE’s school immunisation scheme.

When the child was born he was immunised without dispute with no adverse reactions reported, the court heard.

After the parents’ relationship broke down in 2009, the mother left the family home with her son, who was last year due to receive the two injections provided under the HSE programme to children in junior infants. A dispute arose between the parents on the issue.


Loving parents
Yesterday Mr Justice Moriarty said the mother and father were clearly loving parents. He did not accept a hierarchy of authority could exist in cases where unmarried guardians have disagreements as to the medical treatment for their children. He rejected arguments the mother as primary carer has a “stronger voice” than the father.

The judge said this was a novel case and it appeared no legal authorities exist in relation to cases where estranged parents differ on medical treatment for their child.

He said the Circuit Court judge who heard the case was left in the unenviable position of exercising a power conferred by the Guardianship of Infants Act to make orders in the best interests of the child. “There was no other way of rectifying the impasse that existed.” He found the Circuit Court had not acted in a manner that constitutes a breach of fair procedures and allowed generous time for both sides to make their case.