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AOM v MJE [2015] 43 JR (High Court, Humphyreys J, 11 May 2016)

AOM v MJE [2015] 43 JR (High Court, Humphyreys J, 11 May 2016)

Ratio: The mother of an Irish citizen child whose father is challenging a deportation order made in respect of him by way of judicial review proceedings has no locus standi in the said proceedings.

Also, a deported father of an Irish citizen child should have effective access to the District Court (e.g. for telephone or skype contact with his daughter pending his possible return to Ireland)

The applicant is a national of Nigeria who is the subject of a deportation order dated 8 January 2003. He is the father of an Irish citizen child born on the 14 December 2005. The applicant’s relationship with the child’s mother, Ms N.F, broke down. The applicant brought District Court access proceedings but, following his deportation to Nigeria on the 17 December 2007, the access proceedings were struck out. The applicant applied for the revocation of his deportation order, which was refused on 3 December 2014. He then instituted these proceedings seeking to quash the deportation order. having been deported.

This judgment concerns an application made by Ms N.F. for liberty to bring a notice of motion permitting her to be joined as a notice party in the proceedings. The application was consented to by the Respondent Minister but opposed by the Applicant mother.

In refusing the application, Hymphreys J held as follows:-

“5. The basic reason why the mother should be refused liberty to bring such a motion is that there is no legal basis whatsoever for her to get involved in the proceedings between the applicant and the Minister regarding the revocation of the deportation order. As with the distinction between the public interest and what the public may be interested in, Ms. F. may be interested in the matter in a non-legal sense but she has no legal interest in whether the refusal to revoke the deportation order is set aside or not.

6. [Ms. F] submits that she does not know what is being said by the applicant about her client. That is not in of itself a basis to become involved in the proceedings in the manner sought, whether as a notice party or otherwise.

7. It is true that if the applicant is ultimately successful it could have some downstream impact on Ms. F., in the sense that if the applicant is eventually allowed back in the State, it will be easier for him to pursue family law applications against the mother. But it cannot be the case that downstream indirect consequences of that nature give a basis to allow a party to become involved in judicial review proceedings of this type. Whether it was permissible for the Minister to decide not to revoke the deportation order is, in law, a matter between the Minister and the applicant. There is no basis for the mother to intermeddle in these proceedings.

8. [Ms. F.] also states that she is concerned about what she says are threats (denied by [the Applicant]) regarding the possible removal of the child from the jurisdiction. Even assuming that she would be in a position to put forward an evidential basis for that concern, that is so contingent a matter as not to be relevant to these judicial review proceedings. It only arises if the applicant is returned to this jurisdiction and is a matter that can be ventilated in any family law proceedings that may be brought in due course.”

Also, the Judge was critical of the Applicant’s inability to have effective access to the District Court:-

“10. Finally, I might observe that it seems unacceptable that simply because he is not being permitted to return to the country, the applicant is effectively stating that he is being denied any effective access to the District Court. Such access could for example be simply for telephone or skype contact with his daughter pending his return to Ireland (if it ever occurs). An obstacle to a parent applying for appropriate means of communication with a child, if there is any such obstacle, may be contrary to the constitutional and ECHR rights of the applicant and indeed of the child, in particular by virtue of Article 42A of the Constitution. If the applicant wishes to contend that he should be permitted to make a District Court access application by video link, that would need to be pursued in a separate application.”

Accordingly, the Court refused the application of the child’s mother for liberty to bring a notice of motion to be joined as a notice party in the proceedings.