Mother reunited with newborn infant, Supreme Court hears

Emergency care order allowing HSE to take baby into care expired yesterday

A mother who challenged a decision to take her newborn baby into care shortly after he was born was has been reunited with the infant. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

A mother who challenged a decision to take her newborn baby into care shortly after he was born was has been reunited with the infant. Photograph: Stephen Hird/Reuters

Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 13:33

A mother who challenged a decision to take her newborn baby into care shortly after he was born was has been reunited with the infant.

Earlier this week the mother lost a High Court action against the a district court allowing the HSE to take the baby into emergency care when he was a day old.

On Monday Mr Justice Sean Ryan at the High Court found the order allowing the HSE take the child into care for a period of eight days was valid and lawful. The parties involved in the case cannot be identified by order of the court.

The mother, who under the terms of the care order was granted access of just two hours a day five days a week to her baby, appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

This morning when the appeal was briefly mentioned before the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice Ms Susan Denham, was told the emergency care order had expired on Thursday. The infant was now back with his mother and is subject to a supervision care order made by the district court.

Barrister Michael O’Higgins SC for the mother said his client wished to proceed with the appeal given that the case had raised an issue of public importance. Barrister Tim O’Leary for the HSE said it will oppose the appeal on the basis it is now pointless.

The Chief Justice, in adjourning the matter to a date later this month, said the issues raised in the case were ones that do come before the courts from time to time.

In proceedings challenging the legality of the emergency care order the High Court heard the HSE applied for the care order due to concerns it had about the baby’s safety. The HSE had particular concerns about the infant’s father. The court heard that the baby’s father was a controlling type of person who bullied his wife and had in the past assaulted his wife’s teenage daughter from another relationship.

A HSE witness said that because of a perceived risk to the baby prior to its birth there had been welfare conferences with the mother,

The HSE said the mother had been aware for a number of weeks that an emergency care order might be sought after the baby’s birth because of a risk from the father.

Lawyers for the mother, who rejects the HSE claims, said she not had enough opportunity to prepare for the original District Court hearing and that gardaí had surrounded the house while she was breast feeding her baby and prevented her from going to court.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan ruled on Monday that the rights of the mother to fair procedures were outweighed by the State’s duty to protect a helpless baby.