Inquiry into removal of baby from mother’s care ordered by High Court

Lawyer says Child and Family Agency sought care order without any notice to woman

 

An inquiry into the removal by gardai of an eight month old baby boy from his mother’s care has been ordered by the High Court.

The baby was removed on Wednesday after Tusla, the Child and Family Agency got a District Court interim order placing the child under its care.

The agency sought the order after a social worker expressed concerns about the child’s welfare, including a failure to bring him for medical appointments and whether he was getting appropriate mental stimulation.

Care orders were previously obtained for the boy’s three older siblings, the court heard.

Teresa Blake SC, for the mother, said this interim care order was sought without any notice to the mother. This was despite the fact that there was a solicitor on record in relation to the other three children.

It was highly unusual for an interim order to be sought on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis where there was no notice and no opportunity for the mother’s lawyers to examine the legal basis for the application, she said.

There did not appear to be any serious risk to the child to warrant the application for the care order and there was “a fundamental denial of justice” in this case, she said.

Mr Justice Mark Sanfey said on the basis on the material which the agency made available to the mother’s legal advisers, it was not apparent why the matter was deemed so urgent that it should have been made on an ex-parte basis before the District Court.

He said the high water mark of the evidence from the social worker involved was in relation to matters including the mental stimulation of the child, the keeping of his medical appointments and the baby not being properly secured in his buggy.

There was a potential deprivation of constitutional rights and the judge believed this was an appropriate case in which an inquiry should be held under Article 40 of the Constitution, in relation to the child’s detention.

The matter could could back on Tuesday but the agency had liberty to apply in relation to his order in the meantime, he said. He hoped however some consensus could be reached between the parties in the meantime.

He noted the child would continue to be well looked after by the agency between now and Tuesday.