Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Mother had newborn baby taken from breast in hospital'

Stock photo
Stock photo

Tim Healy

A day-old baby girl was forcibly removed from her breastfeeding mother at a maternity hospital by gardaí and social workers on foot of an emergency District Court order, the High Court has heard.

The circumstances of the removal caused "huge trauma" to the mother, baby and the professionals involved, Pól Ó Murchú, solicitor for the mother, said.

He was concerned about the absence of a suitable protocol or guidelines by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (CFA), in relation to the removal of a newborn child.

A child protection unit garda, one of three involved in the child's removal, said she explained to the mother in hospital there was a court order for the child's removal.

She said she had made every effort to persuade her to hand over the child but the mother was unwilling to do so.

The mother had a 'Bible' in one hand and the baby in the other, there was concern whether the child's head was sufficiently supported and she and her colleagues were anxious to ensure the baby did not fall.

Review

Sunniva McDonagh SC, for the mother, secured leave this week for judicial review against the CFA over how emergency and interim care orders were made for the baby.

The mother claims the circumstances of the child's removal breached the personal and family rights of herself and the baby. It is also claimed the order was disproportionate and involved "poor childcare practice".

The CFA sought the emergency order because social workers believed an "immediate and serious risk" to the child would be triggered as soon as the parents learned of the court proceedings.

The District Court made the emergency order the day after the child's birth and the child was removed by force under warrant. An interim care application was returned to court three days after the birth.

A social worker gave evidence of a history of serious concerns, including lack of supervision and a "strong sense of spirituality" on the mother's part.

One child was missing for four days without gardaí being notified and the mother also spoke of "demons" and her entitlement to beat the children.

Irish Independent

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