Mother upset after court orders son in care to be returned to UK

‘I’ve been fighting for four months, I’ve turned everything around, I’ve done everything I can’

The Child and Family Agency which which sought the return of an 11-year-old boy  to England. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Child and Family Agency which which sought the return of an 11-year-old boy to England. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 15:20

A mother became very upset at the Supreme Court yesterday after it ruled her son, said to be doing well in foster care here, must be returned to care in England today (Friday) pending further proceedings concerning his future care.

The woman, who claimed she fled England with her son last January to get away from her violent partner, the boy’s father, objected to how the English High Court decided last Wednesday her son must go back there when she has alleged domestic violence against his father, who is in England and when she and her son both want to stay here.

It seemed the Child and Family Agency here, which sought the 11-year-old boy’s return to England, “couldn’t wait” to have him returned, the woman told the three Supreme Court judges.

“I’ve been fighting for four months, I’ve turned everything around, I’ve co-operated with the services, I’ve done everything I can.”

The woman said she has a job and accommodation here, gets on well with her son’s Irish foster carer, sees him regularly and he is doing well in foster care and in school. If she returned to England, she would be homeless and jobless, she said.

Her son had “a better chance” in Ireland and is upset he has to go back, she said.

She could not understand why hearings to decide his future care must be held in England rather than Ireland, she said. The English High Court judge who made that decision had not been previously involved in the case and made his decision based “on paperwork”, she said.

She was also very concerned the English High Court made its decision just last Wednesday, the CFA intended her son to be returned very quickly and she and he had very little time to make arrangements.

Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell, presiding and sitting with Mr Justice Liam McKechnie and Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, said the court understood her upset but the Irish courts had no jurisdiction in this matter and could not review the English court’s determination.

The judge told Felix McEnroy SC, for the CFA, the Supreme Court wished to be kept informed of what was happening in relation to this case and asked it be updated in six months time.

Mr McEnroy said the CFA would do so and would pay the woman’s travel costs if she decided to accompany her son back to England.

Previously, the CFA argued the English courts had jurisdiction in the matter but Mr McEnroy said it considered the quality of the relationship between the mother and son was not “heartily articulated” in earlier childcare proceedings in the UK and the CFA wanted to be able to put some matters before the English courts.

Last week, the Supreme Court dismissed the mother’s appeal against a High Court declaration, made under Article 17 of a 2003 European Council Regulation concerning decisions relating to parental responsibility, the Irish courts had no jurisdiction in relation to parental responsibility issues concerning the boy. His habitual residence, the High Court found, was England.

The court adjourned the matter for a week to allow the English courts decide whether it was in the boy’s best interests to remain here, or go back to England, until his care issues are determined there.

The boy was made subject of an English interim care order last February and later made subject of care orders here, to which his mother consented. She hopes he will eventually be returned to her care and was praised by the High Court here for her supportive dealings with him, his foster carer and social workers. She also denied any wrongful removal of her son from England.

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