Mother in Supreme Court bid to regain custody of baby

Appeal against High Court order on HSE care to be heard next Friday morning

Following a brief sitting of the Supreme Court, former Chief Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Nial Fennely and Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman decided the appeal would be heard on Friday morning next.  Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

Following a brief sitting of the Supreme Court, former Chief Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Nial Fennely and Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman decided the appeal would be heard on Friday morning next. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

Tue, Oct 1, 2013, 13:03

The mother of a newborn baby that was taken from her by gardaí following a stand-off at a house in a Border county today asked the Supreme Court to give her back her days-old son.

Following a brief sitting of the Supreme Court, former Chief Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Nial Fennely and Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman decided the appeal would be heard on Friday morning next.

The woman in the case cannot be named.

Her solicitor Ronan O’Brien was this morning waiting with appeal documents outside the doors of the Supreme Court. He said the appeal against the order of High Court judge, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, that the HSE had not unlawfully and unconstitutionally taken the baby into emergency care, would definitely go ahead on the mother’s instructions.

“We are simply now waiting to find out if we are going to have a three-judge or a five-judge Supreme Court sitting,” Mr Ryan said earlier.

In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Ryan said it was difficult to overstate the distressing nature of the case but from the evidence before him he was satisfied that the emergency order placing the then day-old boy in the care of the HSE was valid and lawful.

The 38-year-old mother delivered her baby in hospital at 8:17am last Wednesday after having been told months previously that because of a risk involving the child’s father, the infant might have to be taken into emergency care.

The HSE moved that same day and prepared documents to apply for an emergency care order before a District Court judge, which went ahead on Thursday last. The order was made and the child taken into the care of the HSE.

Mr Justice Ryan had heard the child and the mother had left the hospital in a friend’s car and had gone to the friend’s house. Security staff at the hospital had taken down the car registration number and forwarded it to the HSE, which called in gardaí.

Barrister Michael O’Higgins, SC, who appeared with Mairead Carey, for the mother, told the High Court of suspicions that that a force of gardaí had surrounded the home of the mother’s friend where she and the baby were staying.

Seven gardaí in two squad cars and a van had gone to the house and Mr O’Higgins submitted one of them had gone inside and told everyone they were under house arrest.

The mother and child had been kept in the house until the HSE had obtained its emergency order and the baby was taken into the custody of gardaí by a garda and then handed to HSE carers.

It was not known at what time the Supreme Court would sit today.