Four-day-old baby taken from its mother by gardaí is to remain in HSE custody

Monday 30 September 2013 09.39
Judges decision on case to be given on Monday morning
Judges decision on case to be given on Monday morning

A four-day-old baby, who was taken from its mother by gardaí when the infant was a little over a day old, is to remain in the custody of the Health Service Executive at least until Monday.

Following a day of evidence and legal argument at the High Court about reuniting the child with its mother, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said that while he was conscious of the extreme urgency of the case he was also conscious of the seriousness of the matter.

He told barrister Michael O'Higgins, senior counsel for the mother who cannot be identified, that he would give his decision on the future of the baby at 10am on Monday morning.

Judge Ryan, following a brief dispute in court over access by the mother to her baby, said that while an existing District Court order restricted access to two hours for five days a week, he hoped the mother would be allowed to see her baby for two hours tomorrow.

The court heard that on Thursday, when the baby was little more than a day old, the HSE made an emergency care application to the District Court and obtained an order taking the child into care.

A HSE witness told the court that because of a perceived risk to the baby prior to its birth there had been welfare conferences with the mother who had been aware for a number of weeks that an emergency care order might be sought immediately after the baby's birth.

Mr O'Higgins submitted that gardaí had been asked by the HSE to put the mother and child under house arrest so they would remain in the jurisdiction of the District Court while it considered making an emergency care order.

Tim O'Leary, senior counsel for the HSE, said the mother had left hospital with the child in a friend's car, the registration number of which had been reported to gardaí.

The court heard that the baby and mother, through the car registration, had been traced to the house that was surrounded by seven gardaí who had arrived in two squad cars and a van.

Ronan O'Brien, solicitor for the mother, said in an affidavit that an Article 40 application for the release of the child had been brought on the basis its detention was considered unlawful.

He said no reasonable opportunity had been presented to the child's mother to make her case to the District Court, which sat while she and the baby were under house arrest.

Mr O'Higgins argued that the District Court hearing of the HSE's application was unlawful and irregular in that the mother was prevented by gardaí from attending court.