Monday, November 13, 2006

Adoption Case in Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruling in the "Baby Ann" Adoption Case is now available at
http://tinyurl.com/y2jubh
(This links to the judgment of Murray C.J. There are links at the the top of the page to the other judgments.)

[Update 20 November 2006:
The case is now also available on BAILII at
http://www.bailii.org/ie/cases/IESC/2006/S60.html ]

Sample News Story from RTE website:

Birth parents get custody of 'Baby Ann
http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/1113/babyann.html

13 November 2006 20:03
The Supreme Court has ruled that a two-year-old girl must be returned to the custody of her birth parents.
'Baby Ann' was offered up for adoption by her parents who were at the time unmarried. They later married and during the adoption process withdrew their consent to adoption.
The High Court had earlier ruled that the baby must remain in the custody of her would-be adoptive parents.
However, she will now be returned to her birth parents after the Supreme Court decides on a transfer process.
The interests of the child dictate that the matter must be dealt with as soon as possible, according to Chief Justice Murray's judgment.
The Supreme Court is likely to consider the custodial transfer next week at the latest.
The co-ordinator of the Irish Foster Care Association, Pat Whelan, said the child at the centre of this case will have formed bonds with the foster carers and breaking those bonds could do untold damage. Speaking on RTÉ Radio's News At One, she said she feels the child is the loser in the case today.

http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/1113/babyann.html

1 comment:

Roger Eldridge said...

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Law of the Family reasserted

Monday, November 20, 2006
This remarkable piece of courageous journalism by John Waters below should be noted and commended by everyone who believes in the truth. John's restricted column size obviously prevents him from being able to explain how the majority judgments in this case will convert into reality for families and for Irish society. The National Mens Council of Ireland have given an overview in our article "Baby Ann Judgments will cause an abrupt drop in Family breakdown" which can be read with the full judgments at www.family-men.com/news.

We highly recommend anyone who has the time to read as much of the 83 pages as they can. The reader there will be rewarded by finding they are amazingly easy to read and that the essential legal principles amount to nothing more than common sense with a dollop of rationality and good old Christian morality thrown in to provide a structure.

In the coming weeks we will endeavour to translate how these principles must affect the most common cases of family breakdown that come to us for assistance. We hope that by disseminating this information far and wide especially to anyone experiencing the immoral application of the law in the family courts at present but also amongst amongst the legal professionals that there will be an increase in the expectation that the spouse and children will be protected and that applications for court-ordered separations and claims for the custody of children will decline rapidly.

As the institution of Marriage is thus properly protected we also envisage there being a similar drop in claims for safety and barring orders under the Domestic Act.

Roger Eldridge, Chairman. National Men's Council of Ireland, www.family-men.com

***

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2006/1120/1163947706554.html Irish Times Monday 20 November 2006 Baby Ann coverage a travesty John Waters The impression conveyed by media coverage in the immediate wake of last week's Supreme Court judgments in the baby Ann appeal was that the court, its hands tied by outmoded provisions of the Constitution, was prevented from doing the "decent" thing: leaving baby Ann with her prospective adoptive parents. For two days, the airwaves were colonised by politicians, lobbyists and lawyers wielding this version to press for a "children's rights" amendment to the Constitution. This reportage was a grotesque travesty, being based solely on the judgment of the retiring judge Catherine McGuinness, particularly her closing remarks: "It would be disingenuous not to admit that I am one of the 'quarters' who have voiced criticism of the position of the child in the Constitution. I did so publicly in the report of the Kilkenny Incest Inquiry in 1993. The present case must, however, be decided under the Constitution and the law as it now stands. With reluctance and some regret I would allow this appeal." Overall the judgment is more nuanced than this interjection, but still, if Mrs Justice McGuinness had been the sole judge, the media coverage might be deemed reasonable. There were, however, four other judges, who held not that baby Ann's return to her parents was (lamentably) constitutionally ineluctable, but that this was the proper and just outcome. Mr Justice Fennelly stated categorically that the natural parents, with baby Ann, constitute a family. "This," he continued, "is no mere constitutional shibboleth. Article 41 speaks of the rights of the family being 'antecedent and superior to all positive law'. In my view, that is no more than the statement of the simple facts of life." Mr Justice Hardiman gave a detailed explanation for the context of the rights of natural parents in the Constitution and mounted a robust defence of these: "Though selflessness and devotion towards children may easily be found in other persons, it is the experience of mankind over millennia that they are very generally found in natural parents, in a form so disinterested that in the event of conflict the interest of the child will usually be preferred . . . There are certain misapprehensions on which repeated and unchallenged public airings have conferred undeserved currency. One of these relates to the position of children in the Constitution. It would be quite untrue to say that the Constitution puts the rights of parents first and those of children second. It fully acknowledges the 'natural and imprescriptible rights' and the human dignity, of children, but equally recognises the inescapable fact that a young child cannot exercise his or her own rights. The Constitution does not prefer parents to children. The preference the Constitution gives is this: it prefers parents to third parties, official or private, priest or social worker, as the enablers and guardians of the child's rights." Many disturbing details emerged in the judgments which were left unreported or glossed over in media attempts to use the case as a battering ram against the Constitution. Several of the judges noted the shameful treatment of the parents by some of those organising this botched adoption. Amazingly, it emerges that some of the HSE social workers involved were already acquainted with the couple seeking to adopt. Does this not amount to a clear conflict of interest? Mr Justice Hardiman pointedly observed: "It was always unfortunate, and became more unfortunate as time and events moved on, that the proposed adopters were not, as I presume they normally would be, strangers to the parents' social worker. When this fact is viewed in association with some of the language used, an element of alarm on the part of the mother is in my view understandable, not simply on the basis of the emotions which might be attributed to her, but on a wholly objective basis. Equally, she felt that she was being stalled and I cannot find that that feeling was objectively unreasonable either." Much media coverage sought to portray the parents as taking advantage of a technicality within the Constitution and enhancing their rights by virtue of what, it was implied, was a bogus marriage. Reading the judgments, the issues that emerge are the parents' subjection to enormous pressures, unwarranted delays, denial of information about their rights and emotional blackmail as part of the effort to dissuade them from reclaiming their daughter after they decided to do so in September 2005. The trial judge, Mr Justice MacMenamin, in all material contexts accepted the evidence of social workers rather than the parents. Mr Justice Geoghegan drily observed: "I think that where there was a conflict of evidence of that kind the evidence must be regarded as inconclusive." I beg readers to seek out the judgments on the internet (the Court Services website makes this as difficult as possible, so just Google for "baby Ann Supreme Court judgments"). What emerges, with much else, is that, in pursuit of a pseudo-progressive agenda, the media vacated its duty to report the facts.