The High Court of Ireland
Justice Mary Rose Gearty
12 March 2021
Grave Risk - Art. 13(1)(b)
The parents lived in France and had two children, aged 10 and 4 years old at the time of their retention in Ireland. The children were born in France and had always been habitually resident there.
In October 2020 the children went to visit the father in Ireland, with a return ticket for 1 November 2021. The father refused to return the children as planned based on the fact that if the children returned to school in France the oldest child would be obliged to wear a face mask. The father argued that the children did not want to wear face masks and his doctor confirmed that both the boys were claustrophobic and anxious which made them uncomfortable about wearing masks. However, there was little evidence of this in the communication between the parents in which the father demonstrated a strongly-held view of the ineffectiveness of masks.
The father claimed that this amounted to a grave risk of harm or an intolerable situation within the remit of Article 13(1)(b).
The Court ordered the return of the children. The Court did not accept the fathers account of events and held that, even if they were true, they would not amount to a grave risk envisaged by Article 13(1)(b).
Being obliged to wear a face mask at school did not amount to a grave risk within the scope of Article 13(1)(b).