A London High Court judge has warned parents who fear that children might be taken into care by English or Welsh local authorities against travelling to Ireland in an attempt to seek “sanctuary”.
Mr Justice Cobb said such a move was “futile” because English and Irish courts took a “similar approach” and Irish judges had “exhibited no intention” of establishing Ireland as a “sanctuary for families from other jurisdictions”.
The judge made his comments in a written ruling on a case, heard in London in the Family Division of the High Court, in which a couple said they had gone to Ireland “purposely” to avoid their child “being stolen” by a local authority which had launched care proceedings.
He said the couple’s plan had “backfired” because the child had immediately been made the subject of care proceedings in Ireland.
The judge said he had ruled that the child should be returned to the jurisdiction of England and Wales – following a request from the mother.
“(This case) serves to highlight how futile, and potentially damaging to the infant child, was the course which the parents embarked upon,” said Mr Justice Cobb.
“I am advised that there are other parents who have considered leaving this jurisdiction – and indeed been advised by campaigning groups to do so, as the mother indicated she had been – to avoid public authority intervention in their lives, and to achieve some juridical advantage through process in the Irish courts.
“Quite apart from the fact that the parents themselves in this case apparently soon came to realise that this was not a good solution for (the child) or themselves, this (case) will underline how effectively the courts of England and Wales and the courts in Ireland, and the public authorities in each state, are able to co-operate.”
He added: “The approach of the English courts and the Irish courts appears to be similar; the Irish constitution exhibits no intention to establish Ireland as a sanctuary for families from other jurisdictions.”