We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. View our Cookies Policy. Click Accept and continue to use our website or Manage to review and update your preferences.

IHREC puts adoption arguments to Supreme Court

21 Apr 2023 / human rights Print

IHREC puts adoption arguments to Supreme Court

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) says that it appeared before the Supreme Court earlier this week as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in a case related to involuntary adoption and the constitutional rights of the child.

The case centres on the adoption of a minor, known as B, who has an intellectual disability.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) and the child’s foster mother applied to the High Court ten weeks before B’s 18th birthday for an adoption order under the Adoption Act 2010, and for an order dispensing with the necessity to obtain the consent of the child’s birth parents to the adoption.

B’s birth mother opposed the application for an adoption order.

Court of Appeal

In the High Court, the trial judge was not persuaded that B understood the significance of adoption, especially its effect on the child’s legal relationship with their birth mother. The court ruled that it was not in B’s best interests to be adopted.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal disagreed, and found that adoption was in B’s best interests.

In making the adoption order, Ms Justice Whelan dispensed with the requirement for parental consent. She found that the High Court had placed too much weight on statements made by B’s birth mother.

In its role as amicus curiae on appeal to the Supreme Court, the commission says that it addressed several important human-rights issues arising in the case – including the interpretation of article 42A of the Constitution, the extent of the courts’ obligation to ascertain the views of the child, and the best interests of the child.

‘Obligation’ on CFA

The commission also argued that, since B’s birth mother had addressed considerable adverse personal circumstances, which led to her putting B into voluntary care originally, there was an increased obligation on the CFA to facilitate family reunification between her and the child B.

If the CFA had failed in that duty, the commission said, then this was a relevant consideration in deciding whether the birth mother had failed in her parental duty towards B.

Sinéad Gibney (Chief Commissioner of IHREC) described the case as “important”, as adoption involved the severing of a constitutionally protected relationship, and the creation of a new one.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will assist our understanding of article 42A of the Constitution, and its relevance to the practice of adoption,” she added.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland