Sunday 22 April 2018

I didn't contact judge over family law case – O'Rourke

Mary O'Rourke: ex-politician
Mary O'Rourke: ex-politician

Fiona Ellis

A FORMER TD at the centre of a Sunday newspaper story concerning allegations of improper interference in a family law case has denied any impropriety.

Family law judge in the High Court Henry Abbott issued a judgment last July in relation to a dispute between parents about access to their child.

According to the 'Sunday Times', Judge Abbott's ruling mentioned how he was queried about aspects of the case by an unnamed circuit court judge, who "improperly" made the approach following a representation from a former TD.

Former Fianna Fail politician Mary O'Rourke, who was not named in the 'Sunday Times' story, confirmed she was approached by the mother in the case, but categorically denied being a go-between or making any representations to a circuit court judge in regard to the case.

"Absolutely not," she said.

She said she was "very aware" of the separation of powers and "absolutely" did not act as a go-between in this case.

"In my whole life, and I'm so many long numbers of years in public life, I never ever made a representation to a judge about anything," she said.

"The mother came to see me, and she was fully entitled to do so. The woman came to see me at a clinic, in my home actually, because that's where I did my clinic and we chatted for maybe 15 minutes.

"She told me her story and that was it.

"We chatted and talked and I told her to liaise with the HSE, which was the correct thing to do, and she was fully entitled to come to see me at a clinic."

Ms O'Rourke could not recall when the meeting took place, but confirmed she was contacted by the mother when she was an acting TD.

She called the maelstrom, "very strange".

"I advised her about going to the HSE and all of that, that she should get advice; I think I might have said to her to go to a solicitor, or maybe she had a solicitor, I forget that angle and we talked about that as well."

Eamonn Quinn, chairman of Unmarried and Separated Parents of Ireland, condemned interference by any party in family law litigation.

He called for better structures and guidelines on what parents should do when they separate and how to act in the best interest of children.

Yesterday, the Department of Justice would not make any statement on the matter.

Last night, the Association of Judges of Ireland (AJI) did not respond to calls from the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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