Father challenges move to put son into foster care


THE FATHER of a young child has brought a High Court challenge aimed at stopping the Health Service Executive from placing his son into foster care.

In his action the father claims the HSE is not acting in the interests of the five-year-old boy, who has been living with his grandmother. He said the HSE was rushing through the transfer to the foster family.

None of the parties involved in the case can be identified by order of the court.

The court heard that the child’s parents separated after the father allegedly carried out a serious assault on his wife that left her nearly comatose. Criminal proceedings are pending over that incident.

Leave to bring the application was granted on an ex-parte (one side only) basis. However, after considering the application, Mr Justice George Birmingham said that in the absence of legal representation from the HSE, he was refusing a request by the father’s lawyers to place a stay on the transfer from going ahead.

The court heard that the boy, who has special needs, has lived with his paternal grandmother for the last number of years.

However, the HSE fears she may leave Ireland as she is a non-Irish national, and her husband resides in their home country. As a result, the HSE decided that the boy should be placed in foster care. Arising from that decision the boy’s father began judicial review proceedings where he is seeking a number of orders and declarations from the High Court aimed at quashing the HSE’s decision that the boy be fostered.

The father claims the child could be damaged as a result of the transfer. The child is emotionally attached to his grandmother and the transfer is being rushed through against the advice of the HSE’s own principal clinical psychologist while she is on leave, he claims.

Mr Justice Birmingham said he was prepared to grant the boy’s father leave to challenge the HSE’s decision after holding that the low legal threshold required to allow such an action proceed had been crossed.

The judge said that in his opinion the HSE had approached the matter with the greatest sensitivity. He was not prepared to place a stay on the proposed transfer. Any application for a stay would have to be done on notice to the HSE. That application is expected to be made before the High Court next week.