Eastern Health Board and Another v E and Another (No 2)

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMrs. Justice McGuinness
Judgment Date02 September 1999
Neutral Citation[1999] IEHC 251
Docket Number[1999 No. 1405 SS]
CourtHigh Court
Date02 September 1999

[1999] IEHC 251

THE HIGH COURT

No. 1405SS/1999
EASTERN HEALTH BOARD v. A(E) & A
IN THE MATTER OF ARTICLE 4.4 OF THE CONSTITUTION
AND IN THE MATTER OF BABY A (AN INFANT) HABEAS CORPUS

BETWEEN

THE EASTERN HEALTH BOARD
APPLICANT

AND

EA AND A
RESPONDENTS

Citations:

CONSTITUTION ART 34.1

F V SUPERINTENDENT OF BALLYMUN GARDA STATION 1991 1 IR 189

G (D) V EASTERN HEALTH BOARD 1997 3 IR 511, 1998 1 ILRM 241

EASTERN HEALTH BOARD V FITNESS PRACTICE COMMITTEE 1998 3 IR 399

Synopsis

Constitutional Law

Protection of identity; in camera proceedings; High Court made an order prohibiting publication of any information in relation to proceedings concerning the welfare of "Baby A" and "Baby B"; order subsequently made permitting The Irish Times to publish name of counselling agency involved in the proceedings; application seeking order permitting naming of both the general practitioner and barrister involved in the case; whether in the public interest to allow such publication; whether contrary to the interests of the children to allow such publication.

Held: Overriding need is to protect identity of the infants and their mothers; application refused.

Eastern Health Board v. A (E) - High Court: McGuinness J. - 02/09/1999 - [2000] 1 IR 451

The public interest was served in publishing the name of the counselling agency so that other pregnant women would be aware of it and the reputation of other counselling agencies would not be damaged. However, these reasons could not be extended to apply to the identity of the general practitioner and barrister; they had only been involved in the matter after contact had been made with the counselling agency. The overriding concern of the court was to protect the identity of the children and their mothers; the publication of the identity of the general practitioner and the barrister may lead to the discovery of the identity of the children. The High Court so held in refusing the permission sought.

1

Mrs. Justice McGuinnesson the 2nd day of September 1999

2

In this matter, following a very full hearing, judgment was given by Laffoy J. in this Court on the 16th day of August 1999. On the 26th day of August 1999 Laffoy J. permitted the circulation of an edited version of her judgment designed to protect the identity in particular of the Third Named Respondent and her child and another mother and young child who were mentioned in the course of the proceedings. Ms Justice Laffoy on 26th August 1999 also made a comprehensive Order prohibiting the publication without leave of the Court of any information in relation to the proceedings or the evidence adduced thereon and any information touching or concerning the care and welfare of baby A or baby B, save in the terms of the approved judgment.

3

Following an application by the Irish Times newspaper made to this Court on Tuesday 31st August 1999 I permitted the publication by that newspaper of the name of thecounselling agency involved in the proceedings. This Order was made in the context that the name of the agency together with other information had already been published by Independent Newspapers Limited. This publication is the subject of other proceedings which fall to be decided at a later stage. I enlarged upon my reasons for permitting the publication of the name of the agency in an extempore ruling made on the 31st day of August 1999.

4

Today Radio Telefis Eireann and by extension other representatives of the media, including the Irish Times and Independent Newspapers, have applied for an extension of this Order permitting the publication of the name of both the general practitioner and the Barrister who were involved as witnesses in the case, and to whom reference is made in the judgment of Laffoy J. The matter was argued extensively before me. Since the matter was an urgent one and it was not in the interests of the infants and mothers concerned that continuing Court proceedings with continuing attendant publicity should go on from day to day I decided to make an immediate ruling in the matter which I do after this short adjournment. I thank Counsel for their helpful submissions in thematter.

5

I am conscious that this application raises serious questions of constitutional rights, their balancing and their priority, as did the application by the Irish Times two days ago. Reference has been made to the right of freedom of expression and the right to have justice done in public in terms of Article 34.1 of the Constitution. The Eastern Health Board stresses that the infant children have to have their welfare protected. This case, which was carefully and at length heard by Laffoy J., concerned the welfare of two infant children and Mr. McEnroy Counsel for the Eastern...

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