Woman who sought refuge in Wexford returns to UK with child
A woman who sought refuge in County Wexford has returned to England with her three-year-old son following a High Court order issued under the Hague Convention on child abduction.
The woman, who cannot be idenified for legal reasons, received the assistance of Ectopia, a Wexford-based group that advises parents under investigation by UK social services on how to 'flee to Ireland'.
Last year the mother agreed to grant custody of the child to her estranged partner while social services investigated a possible non-accidental eye injury suffered by the boy while in her care.
the mother, aged 20, agreed she would have only supervised access while the investigation was undertaken by social services and police, however, she left the UK last September with the boy insisting that the boy's father consented to her taking the child to Ireland.
The father denied this, saying she had told him that the boy's grandfather was dying, so he had given the boy to her for only two hours to visit him. He had no idea she planned to go to Ireland.
The judge Una Ní Raifeartaigh said the conflicts of fact in the case were extremely difficult to resolve. She found issues with the evidence of both parents, who she noted were both 'extremely young'.
The judge noted that the mother was not contactable when in Ireland. She ordered that the child be returned to the UK.
County Wexford-based Brian Rothery, from Ectopia, said the mother and child have complied with the Order and are back in Britain.
'We have two kinds of cases - families fleeing British Social Services (the vast majority) and women fleeing with children from partners who have obtained custody,' Mr Rothery told this newspaper.
'We have great success with the first category but not with the second which come under the Hague Convention which ensures that court decisions regarding custody are not breached by the mother 'abducting' her child by fleeing.
'We don't actively encourage or look for these cases but they come to us because of our successful work with parents fleeing from British Social Services and keeping their children here in Ireland,' he said.
Ectopia is supported by Ian Josephs, a Monaco-based businessman who pays the travel costs of pregnant British women who flee to Ireland or France in order to prevent British social services taking their newborn babies into care.
'The mother fleeing with her children and being pursued by Interpol and the local police under the Hague Convention, with a usually better-off ex determined to pursue her, is the most abandoned of humans and we did a video in Wexford using a local actress last year to illustrate this. We used drama to tell a true story where we cannot name families for legal reasons,' said Mr Rothery.