An expectant mother who went into labour while being removed from a protest sit-in at a branch of Thomas Cook gave birth to a baby girl under Garda protection today.
Two Garda officers dispatched to stand guard at the doors of the maternity ward were the first to buy Avril Boyne a card to congratulate her on the new arrival.
And the 26-year-old’s partner Ian Mahon, who was also arrested along with 26 others at the travel agency in Dublin’s Grafton Street, was applauded when his barrister announced the birth in the High Court.
During the courtroom drama, Mr Justice Michael Peart said: “I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t express my congratulations.”
Ms Boyne, from Cork Street in Dublin’s south inner city, was one of nearly 30 workers, trade union officials and other activists who occupied Thomas Cook’s flagship shop over the weekend when bosses moved to shut it.
The High Court granted an order for the protesters to leave the premises and when they defied the ruling, up to 100 Garda officers forced their way in to arrest them during a dawn raid.
Ms Boyne, who was due to give birth on August 17, immediately began getting labour pains and had to be taken by ambulance to the Coombe Women’s Hospital.
A few hours later, at around 11am, she gave birth to a baby girl, Chelsea, weighing 5lbs 14oz, while her partner was being held in a police cell at Bridewell garda station.
“She’s absolutely brilliant. She has not cried once since she was born,” said Ms Boyne, who also has an eight-year-old boy Jamie.
“She’s as healthy as any child can be ... It’s one I’ll never forget anyway.”
Mr Mahon, 37, a cable engineer, from Tallaght, south Dublin, said he was called out of the cell and officers offered to take him across the city to see his newborn girl.
“They did say to me it might be a bit embarrassing having two guards with me, but I didn’t care who was looking at me as long as that baby was all right,” he said.
“Having a baby is a strain but with all this going on too – I just want to sit down, just the three of us. The head matron has pulled me aside and said under the circumstances they would give me access at all times.”
The drama later switched from the maternity ward to the High Court as Mr Mahon, who also has six-year-old boy Scott, was brought before a special sitting to learn if he and the other protesters would be jailed for contempt of court.
Mr Justice Peart said he was satisfied everybody had been through enough stress and he did not want to add to it.
All were freed on condition they stay away from the Thomas Cook branch.
When barrister for the workers John Nolan was reassured that new mother Ms Boyne, who was still under guard at the maternity ward, was also being released, he announced the new arrival.
The packed courtroom erupted into spontaneous applause that briefly drowned out the noise of several hundred demonstrators who had gathered outside to voice their support for the laid-off workers.