Court orders father to return son to State for urgent medical assessment

Child’s suprapubic catheter was removed against Irish medical advice

The president of the High Court has ordered a father to return his son to this State for an urgent surgical assessment following the removal of the child's suprapubic catheter against Irish medical advice.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine said the medical view that the boy now requires a surgical examination is "unanimous" among his Irish doctors and one sourced abroad by the father.

At a previous court hearing, the father gave an undertaking that he would return with his son for the appointment but, having not complied with other court undertakings, the judge said an express order for this was now warranted.

She warned there could be legal consequences, up to and including imprisonment, if he did not present his son for the examination scheduled for later this month.


The father told the court he did not agree with the Irish doctors’ treatment of his son and said he was seeking further medical opinions in another EU country. He stressed that he has brought the boy to hospitals there and said he “is in good hands”. He warned that he may take legal action over the High Court’s decision.

The application for the orders was made by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, although the child is not under the agency's care. The boy was made a minor ward of the court three years ago at the request of an Irish hospital as the parents were refusing to consent to a surgery that his treating team believed was necessary to ensure any immediate threat to his health or life was avoided.

The hospital was granted emergency orders permitting the surgery and other treatments to correct the obstruction in his urethra. The child has been treated for consistent urethra problems since he was several months old.


In a sworn statement, a solicitor for the hospital said the child’s parents had complied with the hospital’s recommendation of catheter changes every six to eight weeks up until May 2021. However, the hospital did not see the boy between then and November last, when it was established that he no longer had any catheter in place, he said.

Following a visit from Tusla and the Garda, the father voluntarily brought his son to the hospital for his most recent assessment in November, he said.

The treating consultant reported that it was “now imperative” that drainage of the boy’s bladder occurs by reinstating a suprapubic catheter as a “matter of urgency”, said the solicitor. The doctor said that failure to do so will result in a reduction in his renal function and predisposes the child to significant urinary tract infections.

Another Irish doctor concurred with this analysis and noted that the team saw renal function increase from about 45 per cent to 60 per cent of normal performance since the original insertion of the catheter, said the solicitor.

Paul Brady BL, for the hospital, said there was "no reason" why the father could not have provided Irish doctors with all of the court-ordered medical documentation within the allotted time. He also asked the court to permit the sharing of medical data between the Irish doctors and the foreign hospital.

Mr Brady asked the father to provide the agency with details about his travel arrangements, as he said this would need to be sorted soon.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine made various orders including one directing the man to return with the boy for the appointment. She also ordered him to immediately provide the Irish doctors with any medical documentation relating to treatment the boy has received overseas.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter