By Aodhan O’Faolain and Ray Managh
A High Court inquiry into the removal by gardaí of an eight-month-old baby boy from his mother’s care last month has concluded.
The baby was removed after the Child and Family Agency (CFA) got a District Court interim order placing the child under its care.
The CFA sought the order after a social worker was concerned 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 also heard.
Lawyers representing the mother challenged the decision, and sought and obtained from Mr Justice Mark Sanfey an inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution, into the child’s removal.
At the High Court today, Mr Justice Senan Allen was informed by Teresa Blake SC for the child’s mother that following discussions between the parties the initial care order allowing the CFA to put the child in care, had been vacated.
A fresh application allowing the CFA to put the child in care stands adjourned before the District Court.
The child remains in the care of the CFA, but on a voluntary basis, Sarah McKechnie Bl for the CFA told the court.
Counsel added that the agreement in relation to the proceedings was entered into following a suggestion by Mr Justice Sanfey, when the case came before him late last month, to take a practical approach to the matter.
Ms McKechnie said that while the matter was resolved following an agreement between the parties, the CFA was standing over its decision to seek orders placing the child in its care.
Ms Blake said the inquiry, under Article 40 of the Constitution, was sought on the grounds that the interim care order was sought without any notice to the mother.
The CFA sought the care order despite the fact that there was a solicitor on record in relation to the other three children.
The mother’s lawyers argued it was highly unusual for an interim order to be sought on a one-side-only-represented (ex-parte) basis where there was no notice and no opportunity for the mother’s lawyers to examine the legal basis for the application.
It was also argued that there did not appear to be any serious risk to the child to warrant the application for the care order.
These steps amounted to a fundamental breach of fair procedures, counsel added.
Mr Justice Allen said that he now deemed the inquiry concluded and adjourned the issue of who should pay the legal costs of the action to a date in June.