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Irish Police Powers

Power to detain

13.66Section 37 of the Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991 gives power to the police to detain a child whom they reasonably suspect is about to be, or is being, removed from the State in breach of one of the following orders of a court in the State:

“(a)an order regarding the custody of, or right of access to, the child (whether or not such an order contains an order prohibiting the removal of the child from the jurisdiction without leave of the court) or any order relating to the child made by the court in the exercise of its jurisdiction relating to wardship of a child; and

(b)a care order, an order made under section 12 (an interim order under the Hague Convention), or while proceedings for one of those orders are pending, or an application for one of those orders is about to be made.”

13.67When the police detain the child, he must be returned to the custody of a person in favour of whom a court has made the order, unless the police have reasonable grounds for believing that that person will act in breach of such order, or, in a case where this does not apply, the police can deliver the child to the health board.1346  The health board then have an obligation to bring the matter before the court to obtain orders concerning the child’s custody.

Power to order disclosure

13.68Section 36 of the Irish Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991 expanded on the power to order disclosure of whereabouts under section 33 of the UK Family Law Act 1986 by extending it to Convention cases.


13.69Section 64(9) of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that where a custody order in respect of a child is in force, the court may issue a warrant which gives powers of entry, search and recovery of a child who has been abducted.  Similar powers are given where an access order is in force.  Thus the court has no power to issue a warrant unless it first determines the issue of custody or access.

13.70Section 64A gives power to request information on the location of the child from the record of a government department provided a warrant has been issued.  That section also allows the court to order a person to provide information to the Registrar.  The court is not given power to order the production of actual records or information on the grounds of protection of privacy.  This section does not apply only to children who are abducted in the formal sense, but includes children illegally removed

1346 Section 37(2) ibid.

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