State has acted to ensure couple can return from Ukraine with newborn, judge says

Court hears new measures are being developed that will allow family to skip quarantine

The Dublin Airport Crowne Plaza hotel, one of the mandatory quarantine hotels. Photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

The Dublin Airport Crowne Plaza hotel, one of the mandatory quarantine hotels. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

A High Court judge has said he is satisfied that the State has made every effort it could to ensure that an Irish couple are able to return to Ireland from Ukraine with their newborn child.

Judge Brian O’Moore noted that the State is working on new regulations that will allow the family board a flight from Ukraine and then fly via Frankfurt to Dublin early on Saturday morning without having to enter mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival.

The judge made his remarks on Friday evening in proceedings brought by Mark Hedderman and his wife Sinead Hedderman Gallagher, who went to Ukraine 10 days ago for the birth of their son Theo Declan by surrogacy.

The couple had claimed their failure to meet the pre-booking requirement for mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival back from Ukraine, especially in circumstances where there are no rooms available in the hotel quarantine system, was a breach of their constitutional and ECHR rights.

They had claimed in proceedings against the State that there is no power to direct airlines not to accept passengers without such pre-booking and want an order quashing the designation of Ukraine on the list of countries subject to mandatory hotel quarantine restrictions.

They had sought a declaration that their rights have been breached by a failure of the State to guarantee their return passage to Ireland.

They also claimed the blanket imposition of a requirement to book a quarantine hotel, regardless of their individual circumstances, constitutes a wholly disproportionate and unreasonable interference with the right to liberty.

The case was against the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Transport, and Health, the State and the Attorney General.

Permission to bring the case was granted by the High Court on Thursday.

On Friday Mr Justice O’Moore welcomed submissions by Catherine Donnelly SC for the State that new regulations that would allow the family fly home and avoid the mandatory quarantine were being prepared.

The judge said that he was satisfied that the State had been working hard on the issue since it was first raised on Thursday, and that he was of the opinion that the respondents had done everything they possibly could in the time available.

He added that the court would be disappointed if things were not completed in time to facilitate the family.

Move welcomed

Micheál O’Higgins SC, for the family, told the High Court that they welcomed the fact that new regulations would be introduced that would allow his clients come home and avoid the mandatory quarantine.

Counsel said it was hoped that nothing would be allowed fall between the cracks when his clients, from north Co Dublin, fly home on Saturday.

Mr Justice O’Moore said that in the event that any issues arise, the family’s lawyers had permission to return to court.

The case was adjourned for a week.

Previously the court had heard that the couple, who asked the court to lift an order previously banning the media from identifying them, travelled to Ukraine on April 5th last for the birth of their baby.

The child has no entitlement to Ukrainian citizenship but the family have obtained an emergency travel certificate for him which expires on Monday next.

They had been booked to fly home on Saturday, but in the meantime Ukraine was added to the list of countries for which mandatory quarantining applies for travellers arriving in the State.

There are no more rooms available in the hotel quarantine system until Monday, when the travel certificate expires, and airlines are being told not to allow people board from countries on the list if they don’t have a pre-booked room in hotel quarantine, the court heard.

The family feared that they would be denied boarding either in Ukraine or on a stopover.

They were concerned about being stranded with a newborn infant either in Ukraine or upon the stopover.

They were also concerned about the safety of bringing their child to hotel quarantine, which is not equipped with the practical or medical needs for a newborn.