The Attorney General has instructed a senior counsel to represent the interests of the unborn in the court case being taken by a 17-year-old girl who wishes to travel to the UK for an abortion.

James Connolly SC told the High Court this morning that he had been instructed by the Attorney General to represent the interests of the unborn.

This means the AG will have two teams of lawyers at the case; the other will represent the State.

Mr Justice Liam McKechnie also heard the Free Legal Aid Board has granted legal aid to the mother of the 17-year-old girl so that she too can be represented.

The challenge by the girl, who is four months pregnant with a baby that cannot survive for more than three days after he or she is born, is due to begin tomorrow.

The baby is suffering from anencephaly, which means a major part of the brain and skull is missing.

She is in the care of the Health Service Executive and says it will not allow her to travel for an abortion unless she is suicidal.

The State will argue that the HSE has no power to direct gardaí not to allow her leave the country.

The court also heard that the girl was assessed by a psychiatrist on behalf of the HSE yesterday.