Father fails in High Court bid to have son returned to Ireland

Boy’s mother took child out of State and judge in her country dismissed man’s application

A man has failed in a High Court application to have his son brought back to live in Ireland after the mother took the child out of the country in 2015 and failed to return.

The boy, now 11, wants to stay with his mother in the EU country she took him to and of which she is a national. The courts there have dismissed the father’s application for the boy’s return under the Hague Convention (governing international child abduction).

Those courts found that, while his abduction from Ireland was unlawful, it refused a return order on the basis there would be a grave risk that a return under his father’s permanent care would cause physical and psychological harm to the child.

Under an EU regulation (the Brussels IIa Regulation) the Minister for Justice was required to bring High Court proceedings to establish whether Ireland, which had been the habitual residence of the child before he was taken away, could override the decision of the courts in the mother's home country.


The father, a non-EU national living here, brought an application as part of those proceedings, under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, seeking the child’s return, joint custody and access rights.

The mother was the respondent in the case but she sent a letter to say there was no reason for reviewing the matters once again because the court order of her native country had already come into force.

The Minister for Justice was a notice party when the case came on for hearing before Mr Justice Garrett Simons.

The child is a national of both Ireland and of his mother’s native EU country. The District Court here made a safety order against the father in 2014 when the mother and child were still here.

On Friday, Mr Justice Simons refused the father’s application for the boy’s return to Ireland.

He said the retained jurisdiction under the EU regulation had come to an end as a result of the delay on the part of the Minister in initiating the proceedings.

Even if the Irish courts had continued to retain jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility regarding the child, it would not be in the best interests of the child to order his return to Ireland having regard to the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, the judge said.

The courts of the mother’s country are now the only courts with jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility regarding the child, he said.

If the father wished to pursue an application for access or custody, it should be directed to the courts in that country, he said.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times