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Irish couples travelling abroad for surrogacy set to be exempt from hotel quarantine, High Court hears

The regulations could be in place by the end of the day, the High Court was told by lawyers for the State.

Image: Dominic Lipinski

Updated Apr 16th 2021, 5:45 PM

A HIGH COURT judge has said he is satisfied that the State has made every effort it can to ensure that an Irish couple are able to return to Ireland their newborn child from Ukraine.

Brian O’Moore noted that the State is working on new regulations that will allow the family to board flights from Ukraine, via Frankfurt to Dublin early on Saturday morning, and that on their arrival they won’t have to enter the mandatory hotel quarantine.

The judge made his remarks this evening in proceedings brought by Mark Hedderman and his wife Sinead Hedderman Gallagher, who went to Ukraine ten days ago for the birth of their son Theo Declan by surrogacy.

The couple had claimed their failure to meet the pre-book requirement, especially in circumstances where there are no rooms available, was a breach of their Constitutional and European Convention rights.

They had claimed in proceedings against the State that there is no power to direct airlines to accept passengers without pre-booking and want an order quashing the designation of Ukraine on the banned list of countries.

They had sought a declaration their rights have been breached by a failure of the State to guarantee their return passage to Ireland.

They also claimed the blanket imposition of a requirement to book a quarantine hotel, regardless of their individual circumstances, constitutes a wholly disproportionate and unreasonable interference with the right to liberty.

The case was against the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Transport, Health Ireland and the Attorney General.

Permission to bring the case was granted by the High Court yesterday.

Today, Justice O’Moore welcomed submissions by Catherine Donnelly SC for the state that new regulations that would allow the family to fly home and avoid mandatory were being prepared.

The Judge that he was satisfied that the State had been working hard on the issue since it was first raised yesterday, and was of the opinion that the respondents had done everything they possibly could in the time available.

He added that the court would be disappointed if things were not completed in time to facility the family.

Micheál O’Higgins SC, told the High Court that they welcomed the fact that new regulations would be introduced that would allow his clients to come home, and avoid the mandatory quarantine.

Counsel said it was hoped that nothing would be allowed to fall between the cracks when his clients, from North County Dublin, fly home on Saturday.

Justice O’Moore said that in the event that any issues arise, the family’s lawyers had permission to return to court.

The case was adjourned for a week.

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Previously the court heard that the couple, who asked the court to lift an order previously banning the media from identifying them, travelled to Ukraine for the birth of their baby on 5 April last.

The child has no entitlement to Ukrainian citizenship but they have obtained an emergency travel certificate for him which expires on Monday next.

They had booked to fly home on Saturday but in the meantime, Ukraine was added to the list of countries where mandatory quarantining applies.

There are no more rooms available until Monday, when the travel certificate expires, and airlines are being told not to allow people to board from these countries if they don’t have a pre-booked room, they feared.

They feared that they would be denied boarding either in Ukraine or on a stopover.

They were concerned about being stranded either in Ukraine or the stopover with a newborn infant

They are also concerned about the safety of bringing their child to hotel quarantine which is not equipped with the practical or medical needs of a newborn.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing.

About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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