Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Merciful Release

Editorial The Irish Independent Thursday 10th May 2007.

FAIR minded people will greet Judge McKechnie's sensible judgment with a sigh of relief.
After a ten-day ordeal, during which she was threatened with the might and machinery of the State, a 17-year-old girl has been told, yes, you may go to England.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) must bear the brunt of the blame for what has been seen by most people as a cruel ordeal imposed with gross heavy-handedness.

One might ask why the Executive chose not to seek directions from the District Court at the start of the protracted Miss D affair.

Instead, the Executive contacted the gardai and the passport office with the intention of preventing a teenage girl from leaving the country. The Executive had taken legal advice.
In the wake of the X Case and the C Case, those responsible for children in care are running scared, afraid of making a mistake which will plunge them into some sort of Constitutional crisis.

They turn to the courts and, as Miss D has learned over a tortuous ten days, the courts grind exceeding slow.

Miss D had declared her intention to have an abortion because her child cannot survive after birth. But Miss D did not feel suicidal. In the context of Irish law, as it stands, this presented a problem. We descended into the realms of black farce.

Miss D lodged a High Court action to prevent the HSE from stopping her from travelling. Before the High Court could begin, the HSE finally applied to the District Court for directions on whether Miss D could travel. The District Court said no.

So, until Judge McKechnie brought matters to a merciful conclusion yesterday, there were two sets of legal proceedings.

Miss D challenged the HSE decision to prevent her from travelling.
The second was an action by the HSE challenging the District Court's refusal to allow Miss D to travel. This, despite the fact it was the HSE that tried to prevent Miss D travelling in the first place.

Judge McKechnie, in his lengthy and sensible judgment criticised the HSE and praised Miss D.
She had shown courage, integrity and maturity. We would add dignity to that list, given Miss D's behaviour under the scrutiny of lawyers and media and the close attentions of pressure groups.

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