Friday 17 November 2017

Father-of-two opposed to vaccinating children challenges judge's refusal to postpone shots

Aodhan O'Faolain

A FATHER-of-two who is opposed to his children receiving vaccinations is challenging a judge's refusal to postpone an order that the shots be given.

The father wants a stay on a decision by made by a District Court judge in childcare proceedings allowing the children to be vaccinated.

He says that order should be postponed until a case, in which identical issues have been raised, has been ruled on by the Supreme Court.

The matter arises out of proceedings where the father of the two children, aged three and five, does not want them to receive MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations because he believes they are harmful to their health.

The children's mother. who is estranged from her husband, wants the children to be vaccinated.

The parties involved in the action cannot be identified by order of the court.

Yesterday in the High Court,  Berenice McKeever BL, for the father, said the dispute came before the District Court earlier this year.

Last month the judge who heard the case made orders clearing the way for the children to receive the MMR vaccinations.

Counsel said the judge based his decision on a High Court ruling last May that a boy should be vaccinated in accordance with the wishes of his father.  In that matter the boy's mother had objected to the vaccination.

That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court where a judgment is pending, counsel said. It is the only case of its type where legal issues of the types raised in the current case has been considered by the Superior Courts.

Therefore its outcome is extremely important to the current case, counsel said.

The District Court Judge who heard the case refused to grant a stay on his ruling. Ms McKeever said the District Court order was appealed to the Circuit Court.

A Circuit Court judge refused to extend the stay beyond three weeks.

Counsel said it was their case that a stay should be put in placed until the Supreme Court has ruled on the other case. The failure to grant a stay counsel said was a breach of the fathers rights to fair procedures.

If the children in the current case were immunised before then it would render any appeal to the Circuit Court moot, counsel said.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Micheal Peart granted lawyers for the father permission, on a one-side only represented basis,  to bring his challenge against the District Court judge's refusal to grant a stay.

His order also prevents the Circuit Court from hearing the father's appeal until the Supreme Court has given its decision.

The matter comes back before the High Court next February.

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