Parents’ challenge against children being placed in care adjourned

Judge postpones case to get ’full picture’ of HSE’s securing emergency care orders

 Mr Justice Gerard Hogan  adjourned the matter to April 9th  because he wants a “full picture” of what occurred at  District Court proceedings last September.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan adjourned the matter to April 9th because he wants a “full picture” of what occurred at District Court proceedings last September.

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 18:13

A couple's High Court challenge against orders placing their children into State care has been adjourned until after Easter.

The children were taken into care last year following "very serious allegations" against the parents. However, in their High Court action, the parents claim the orders detaining their children are unlawful and unconstitutional.

Yesterday at the High Court, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said he was putting the matter back to April 9th next because he wanted "a full picture" of what occurred at the District Court proceedings last September, when the HSE secured emergency care orders concerning the children.

Interim care orders were later made. All the children are subject to full care orders, dating from January last, which extend in early April.

The judge adjourned proceedings so that the court and the parties involved can be provided with the transcript from the District Court's own internal recording system of the HSE's application for care orders. Those proceedings took place before a District Court judge over the course of two days.

In addition, the High Court is to receive sworn statements from parties involved in the District Court proceedings.

Barrister Berenice McKeever, for the parents, said her clients were "greatly upset" because what has been described as "an urgent matter" was being put back for another two weeks.

In reply, Mr Justice Hogan said while he wished that "we all lived in an ideal world" and "in an ideal legal system", it was important in the context of this case that he have a transcript of the evidence given at the District Court. It was also important to have the District Court judge's reasons for making the care orders.

The judge directed that all parties in the case be given copies of the transcript, but warned that any dissemination of that information to third parties would result in "the most serious of sanctions".

The children's parents, who deny the allegations, have been granted an inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution into the legality of the care orders.

The parents argue that the orders are invalid and unconstitutional.

The HSE, represented by Felix McEnroy SC, rejects the parents’ claims and says the orders are valid. The Office of the Attorney General, which is not a party to the case, is present to assist the court.

When the case opened last week Mr Justice Hogan said the "real issue", given the very serious allegations against the parents, was whether Article 42.5 of the Constitution came into play.

Article 42.5 provides, in exceptional cases, where parents fail in their duty towards their children, that the State as guardian of the common good shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents with due regard for the rights of the child.

Judge Hogan also referred last week to the new Article 42.a enacted as a result of the children's rights referendum, but he said that that was "in a bit of a limbo" as a result of a legal challenge aimed at overturning the result of the referendum.

The bulk of yesterday's hearing was in camera. The media and public were excluded so that certain evidence relating to the allegations can be aired.

The judge has ruled that the media may report the case subject to strict reporting restrictions aimed at preventing the parties being identified.

There can be no reporting of the number of children involved; the location of the parents, their nationality or any details of the allegations against them, except that the allegations are "very serious".

The restrictions are to protect the interests of the welfare of the children involved, the judge added.