Commission to Appear in Supreme Court Adoption Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has been granted leave by the Supreme Court to exercise its Amicus Curiae (‘friend of the court’) function, in an important case relating to 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 together with the child’s foster mother applied to the High Court for an adoption order, 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 in the High Court.

In the High Court, Mr. Justice Barrett ruled that he did not believe that it was in B’s interests to be adopted. He said that he had met with the child, and was not entirely persuaded that they understood the significance of adoption in terms of their legal relationship with their natural mother.

However, the Court of Appeal disagreed and made an adoption order under s54 (2) of the Adoption Act 2010 in favour of B’s foster mother. The Court also dispensed with the requirement for consent of the minor’s parents. It also found that the High Court had put too much weight on complaints made by B’s birth mother.

In the majority judgment, Ms. Justice Whelan said that in light of B’s disabilities, the trial judge had attached insufficient weight to the fact that adoption would provide continuity of an established long standing relationship with the foster mother.

As Amicus Curiae, the Commission will now impartially assist the Supreme Court as it considers this case, which is of profound public importance concerning the operation and interpretation of both the Adoption Act and Article 42A of the Constitution.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Commission stated:


“There are few expressions more fundamental to the right to a private and family life than that of parentage and belonging to a family. We applied to appear in this case to assist the Supreme Court in keeping human rights at the forefront of its considerations, given the potential impact of this case in the future.”



For further information, please contact:

Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8592641 / 087 4687760

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note


As the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is now formally involved in these proceedings before the Supreme Court we will make no further comment at this time.


Where written submissions are made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the superior Courts in amicus curiae cases they will be made available on after the case has been heard.


Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.