Ireland is one of the English-speaking countries with a growing nanny state attitude and an increasingly hostile anti-family Social Services. Sweden appears to be the only non-English-speaking country with the same ideology. However, Ireland has attractions for families fleeing from the UK.
The main one is that there is as yet no forced adoption in Ireland, although with support from recent legislation there are those wanting it. Ireland as a society is also more family-orientated.
No passports are required between Great Britain and Ireland and the country is familiar and friendly to its British-born citizens. There is plenty of space and children can play more freely.
Welfare payments can be deposited into your UK bank accounts for some time and you can get relatives to collect and forward them. No one seems to know how long you have to wait to qualify for welfare in Ireland. The official answer is two years but others point to much earlier responses. You can find work by accepting one of the many services jobs that the Irish refuse, preferring to stay on welfare.
What's badly needed is more cooperation between parents, mainly mothers, coming to Ireland so that child minding and accommodation can be shared allowing some to work. If anyone is interested in advancing this, contact us. Once in Ireland, you must not contact Social Services as they are likely to act as an extension of the UK. You can either keep a low profile or change your name. One very acceptable excuse for this is to stay clear from an abusive ex.
Advice from Ian Josephs in Monaco to all expecting mothers wanting to flee
To ALL pregnant mothers who want to leave the UK to avoid forced adoption.
If you give me written proof by email(firstname.lastname@example.org) or fax (0033493220967) of 1:pregnancy 2: social workers hostile involvement 3:that you phone me from Ireland or France so I know you are there 4: receipt for cash paid out: I will refund the entire cost of coach and boat travel to the borders of Ireland or France and most other nearby European countries for yourself partner and children and in exceptional cases to N. Cyprus, but obviously cannot support you financially when you are there.
How do I send it?
You give me your UK bank details - sort code, account number and exact name of the person receiving the cash. I then send it bank to bank and it gets there in less than 24 hours.
Please note once more that I am happy to refund travel expenses but cannot support families after arrival though I usually can pass on some useful contacts. Do not land in a foreign country with no personal resources expecting to collect benefits! That just won’t happen. You need outside support to survive if you have no cash and no job lined up. Sometimes a father remains in UK earning money to support the mother and baby in their new home; others rely on extended family support. The "SS" may eventually track you down and if they do you must stay and fight them in the courts and WIN. Do not panic or run away as most (but not all) who stay to fight do win.
Yes anywhere is better than UK AS IT IS ONLY UK THAT GOES IN FOR MASS FORCED ADOPTION. France Italy and Spain are Latin countries where the family is almost sacred but if you do not speak the language and have no means of visible support you will not last long.
The only parents that can be sent back are those that break the law before leaving. Brian (in Ireland) tells me that "R skipped bail in UK for another offence" but even she was not sent back; she was arrested when she foolishly returned to UK to visit friends and family!
If you leave before court proceedings and before the baby is born very few such babies are sent back if it is emphasised in the Irish courts that a baby can not be "sent back" to a country it has never visited in the first place! Courts vary in their decisions in these matters and nothing is 100% certain either way, but in my opinion anything is better than waiting in UK to see your new baby whisked off to strangers to be adopted.
Preparing for court. The experience in Ireland.
This will probably apply to all European countries including the UK. The problem with the UK is the likely ferocity of Social Services in their determination to take children and the danger of irrevocable forced adoption.
There are two categories of parent fleeing: those on the radar, that is, already being pursued by Social Services and those off the radar. A good example of the second is a woman who has already had a baby seized, but whose new pregnancy is still not known to UK Social Services. If she successfully gives birth to the new baby in Ireland, perhaps in a home birth, she simply stays off the radar. What follows deals mainly with those on the radar where the Irish officials have either sought or received the woman's notes or files from the UK and now want to carry out the wishes of the their colleagues. It needs to be stressed that justice may not be found in consolations with Irish Social Services but will almost certainly be found in the Irish courts.
The biggest advantage the parent has is the likely, if not inevitable, incompetence and inaccuracy of the documentation produced by Social Services in their case. This can be dissected by a solicitor or other helper, line by line, and presented to the judge with the potential, if not likelihood, of overturning the demands of Social Services and result in the child going home with its parent.
So, most important, before fleeing, collect all minutes and any resulting reports prepared by Social Services. If you have the ability, write a retraction, a line by line rebuttal if necessary, pick out all contradictions, irrelevancies and even sloppy or illogical conclusions and write a summary. If you are aware of any reports critical of the local authority involved, attach that also.
Ideally now you need one of the very few objective solicitors - that is, not employed by Irish Social Services or on a panel hoping for work. Free legal aid solicitors are virtually useless and will advise cooperation, but we are hoping to find exceptions. The solicitor will be expensive because his or her strategy will be to hire independent experts to support you and the judge is certain to listen to them, especially as judges are tired of seeing sloppy Social Services work.
If you cannot afford a solicitor, hopefully a free McKenzie Friend can be found for you, but, if not, you can represent yourself in court and present your assault on the sloppy reports, or, if there is no final report, the minutes of the various Social Services meetings. The judge, who is entirely separate from Social Services, will listen with great interest and, if there are any doubts left, he will order certain rights of visit and supervision to Social Services, but you will have bought time to get more help.
Claiming UK benefits while in Ireland
If you do not have a private income, and cannot find work in Ireland and as there may be no Irish benefits available to you for up to two years after you arrive, you may be able to have certain UK benefits paid into your bank account for six months. This is more than enough time for your baby to be born or, if you are not pregnant, it may be enough time for you to find employment.
It is done by claiming and obtaining the Employment Support Allowance.
If as a result of harassment or intimidation from Social Services you are ill or under severe mental pressure, or in either condition for any other reason, you can go to your family doctor and make a compelling and convincing case about your situation. From our experience of mothers suffering assaults from Social Services your condition will be real, especially as far as anxiety and panic are concerned. The doctor should then give you a 'sick note' for up to 6 months. This allows you to claim the Employment Support Allowance. In theory you can also claim all of your other benefits, if any, for this period. We calculate that this could give you an income of around 800 pounds sterling per month. (ESA + Child Benefit + Child Tax Credit.) You will need someone to confidentially forward your post to you, that is post over and above the payments in to your bank account.
If you reside near the border of Northern Ireland, as in Dundalk Town, you might also receive 'sure start' vouchers, which may be valid across the border in Northern Ireland and would be worth around an additional 18 pounds sterling a month and are required to be used for children for fresh vegetables and milk.
Other information on Ireland
The only advantages of Ireland are same language/culture and no passport required and, of course for now at least, no forced adoptions, although Social Services still take children into foster care. The big disadvantage is that, officially, even coming from the UK, you receive no benefits here for 2 years although we have been told there are exceptions which we cannot verify. You can go on drawing UK benefits for a limited time only - apparently about 3 months, unless you receive the special doctor-originated allowance above. If there is an order issued against you and they discover you are missing, the UK authorities can axe your benefits immediately. If there is an order issued against you, Social Services in Ireland are likely to co-operate with their UK colleagues to get your child or children returned, although this is not always so and campaigners are trying to stop this.
You will need 500 Euros deposit and 1-4 weeks rent in advance for the cheapest rented house. In a country town you can get a house for less than 120 Euros a week.
Possibly the biggest advantages are that you can vanish more easily if you have means of support and if your child is born in Ireland it makes its forced return to the UK very difficult.
For information on general advice and on women's refuges and possible other accommodation go to
Safe Ireland. However you will not be welcome in an Irish refuge without either Irish or UK benefits, or your own income, so read the section here on the latter.
How safe, or ultimately you will be, may be determined by the following checklist.
Are there any existing orders on the children? (For example on the CPR or a Supervision Order).
Is there an ex with parental responsibility who can make an abduction claim after 28 days?
Do you have any skills/education? (Ireland has the best educated work force in almost all of Europe and given the economy, job competition is high. There are lower paid services jobs.)
Changing your name
This is simplest for a writer or actor. Many writers or aspiring writers simply adopt a pseudonym and open bank accounts under it.
Marrying someone can also allow you to change your name, although such a drastic action for that alone is not recommended.
If you have fled to Ireland you can change your name and the names of your children by deed poll in a fairly straightforward and inexpensive routine.
Details at http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/birth_family_relationships/problems_in_marriages_and_other_relationships/changing_your_name_by_deed_poll.html here.
Your legal situation in Ireland (and most other places)
Where there is no order in the UK, freedom to travel is a right and the parent can not be stopped.
If an 'Initial Assessment' is underway (a Section 47), freedom to travel is a right and the parent can not be stopped.
If there is a 'Supervision Order' from a UK court, the parent must seek permission to travel. You can of course show evidence, such as return tickets for a short holiday.
A 'Supervision Order' is the mildest court order and, unless the UK authorities have concerns for the children and know where to find them, they may not bother to follow up. Some solicitors believe that they are not worth the paper they are written on. As one said, "Supervision Orders mean that Social Services really have no case."
If there is an ICO or EPO in place, a child cannot be removed legally from England or Wales without the permission of the court. (Scotland has its own laws, which require investigation).
So to remove a child becomes a criminal offence.
If a parent staying behind, for example a father, even one who has been abusive and from whom a mother is fleeing, exerts Parental Rights (PR), he can either prevent the mother leaving or begin proceedings to bring her and the children back. Social Survives officials may even use an undesirable ex-partner to achieve this. The fleeing parent with custody/primary custody can petition the Irish court to show why she had 'reasonable' grounds to leave the UK for more than 28 days.
In general, the Irish authorities will not be interested in a UK family, unless UK Social Services attempt to ask their assistance to implement an ICO or EPO with the help of the Irish police, which usually means seizing the children in Ireland. Whether they do this in all cases or use their own judgement, and what courses of action are then open to the fleeing parent, are issues under exploration. If there is a violent ex back home with an outstanding arrest warrant, they are very likely to assist the UK authorities and seize the children in Ireland.
We believe that normally if the if the 28 day rule is broken by the parent staying on in Ireland, and the parent can show good grounds, a judge in Ireland on application (not Social Services who are likely to be hostile) will side with the parent, but the parent would do well to have a solicitor or a McKenzie Friend on her side.
The unborn child
In the case of an unborn child, the parents, or mother, can freely leave the country before the birth. In some cases a supportive father will stay back in the UK to work and support the mother and the pending child.
In exceptional cases, Social Services may try to get a court order to prevent the pregnant woman travelling but usually fail. In practice it is virtually impossible to prevent a pregnant woman from travelling freely in Europe, except that at an advanced stage airlines will not let her fly. Thus the popularity of ferries to Ireland and the Eurotunnel to the Continent. Simply by being born outside the UK complicates the situation for the British authorities, in view of citizenship, the European Convention and, for example, the Irish Constitution which is strong on family rights. If, however, the parent returns with the child to the UK the authorities are likely to seize the child and it could be irrevocably adopted before one can get a hearing in Strasbourg.
Where Social Services have become involved with a pregnant woman, they will normally expect her to agree to a 'pre birth' assessment and working agreement. This may be the point when she decides to flee.
British mothers who have just become pregnant
The key here is to be aware of one's relationship or possible relationship with Social Services and to act before others know of the pregnancy. One must not hesitate or falter. These are the mothers-to-be who will be the winners.
This is not intended as advice on how to break the law. This is simply what some UK women are doing to avoid the State forcibly removing and adopting their children. Their consciences may be assuaged by the knowledge that they are protecting their unborn from seizure by the state.
Women with independent means find the process much simpler.
When she becomes pregnant, she begins immediately to establish an address in Ireland such as a house sharing arrangement so that within two years she will have established habitual residency and can claim Irish benefits. She will lose her UK benefits 3 to 6 months after moving to Ireland if the UK authorities become aware that she has moved. Before the pregnancy is visible she moves to Ireland, continuing to draw her UK benefits. One way for this to be financially practical is to either move back to her parent's home in the UK or house share with a friend (on paper). If she feels safe she can dual reside on each side, which is much easier if one side is Northern Ireland.
As a British citizen her child becomes an Irish citizen upon birth and is safe as long as she does not take him/her back to the UK. In addition to full Irish rights her baby cannot be forcibly adopted.
Giving birth in Ireland
Ireland is an obvious choice of location for parents who suspect, or are aware, that Social Services will remove their baby after birth. A child born in the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 is entitled to Irish citizenship if they have a British parent or a parent who is entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Irish State without restriction on their residency. Thus, if the baby is born in Ireland it receives full Irish citizenship and all the legal protections which that involves. It cannot be forcibly adopted - that is, without its mother's consent, which is probably the principal reason for choosing to give birth in Ireland. Also there are protections for family under the Irish Constitution. If, however, the parent returns with the child to the UK see the paragraph above.
A common snag about giving birth in Ireland is that one loses UK benefits after some months and cannot claim any except a child allowance until resident for 2 years.
There may be a way, of having the child born in Ireland and drawing UK benefits for longer than would be possible otherwise. Move from Great Britain to Northern Ireland before the UK authorities become aware that you are pregnant. Continue to draw your UK benefits using your new address. Find the cheapest possible accommodation across the border near a large maternity hospital or arrange for a home birth if you are renting your own house. If you cannot afford around 100 Euros a week, in addition to the rent you are paying in Northern Ireland, you may be able to afford house-sharing which is much cheaper. The longer before birth you arrange this, the more likely housemates are to welcome you and you may have to do it on your own because sometimes couples are not wanted in sharing.
After the child is born, register the birth and the child is now a full Irish citizen not born on 'British soil'. Return to Northern Ireland where full benefits can be resumed and be prepared to either fight for the rights of your Irish-born child or go back south should the authorities begin to show interest.
You can of course do the same thing by using mainland Great Britain as your UK base as you are only a ferry-ride away.
Ideally you should stay in Ireland where your child cannot be adopted against your will. This is a practical option for those with work skills or money. Ireland is a very competitive job market, although there are low paid services jobs that the Irish do not want.
For the many on benefits who try to come to Ireland the critical period is that between when your UK benefits run out - 3 to 6 months, the latter if you have the doctor prescribed benefit and 2 years after arrival when Irish benefits will begin. It is 1 year and nine months or 1 and a half year gap to be bridged. If you still have a partner it s a great way to find out if he is any use to you and your child. Experience has shown that he can often be an additional burden.
A possible way around the benefits-Irish birth conundrum
This assumes that UK SS are unaware of the pregnancy.
Room share in Belfast for Stg50-60 per week. Use the room as your UK home to claim benefits. Visit the local welfare office to sign on as often as you are required. As you will not be living only here the cost if continuing to receive your UK benefits is 50-60 per week, plus any travel to pick up correspondence, unless your room mates send it on. The next step in cost up from sharing is a bed-sit. A bed-sit, while more expensive, is more practical if the pregnancy is advanced and you have to return from time to time with the baby.
Rent a cheap house in Dundalk, hopefully for 110 Euro a week - Stg80. The question now is will there be food money left after Stg130? If not, can your parents or partner subsidize you until Irish benefits kick in?
Use this house to begin your habitual residency so that you will qualify for Irish benefits in 2 years. We are told that it can be less.
We have learned that fundamental to house sharing is rapport with housemates, especially at the point of agreement which can be by email or other contact - viz young women dealing with each other. We believe however that when the mother to be is successfully installed in the Belfast houseshare she needs a good cover story as to why she is spending so much time south of the border. We suggest that she tells her housemates that her partner is working down there and she is spending time with him but wants to keep the Belfast option open in case it does not work out. When the pregnancy is obvious, she could inform them that she intends giving birth across the border.
If trips back up to Belfast, for signing on or other visits to the welfare office, are required after the birth, make a judgement as to whether it is safe to travel with the baby or use a babysitter.
Other general legal information
Ireland differs from the UK and many other countries because it has a written Constitution. The US also has a written Constitution, but unfortunately these days it is being ignored by its lawmakers and politicians.
What the Constitution means for Irish parents suffering abuses from social workers is that it can be appealed to both in individual court cases where its articles can be pointed out to the judge or directly through such legal mechanisms as a judicial review.
The human rights element at the heart of the parent social services interaction can be stated as follows.
There are many Irish citizens whom social services do not treat with competence or due consideration. Being treated in an incompetent manner can be as frustrating and damaging as being treated insultingly or arrogantly as it can cause great distress and lead to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. These citizens appear to have no avenues of redress, because Social Services can appear to be above the law. But they are not.
The Irish Constitution in its wisdom guarantees certain rights to all citizens. Two of its articles are of relevance here. Article 40 (1.) All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law. (3. 1) The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen. And supporting these in the context of a citizen's dealings with Social Services is Article 45 (1.) The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life.
'Justice and charity shall inform all the institutions of the national life' is a constitutional requirement that cannot tolerate citizens being treated with incompetence or lack of consideration by Social Services.
Social Services is accountable under the Irish Constitution so if necessary certain forms of judicial review can be demanded including a Writ of Mandamus where citizens' rights are being abused.
The reality however is that Social Services in Ireland may have already seized and returned your children to the UK before you can explore the niceties of the Constitution.
You can demand to see a District Court judge and if one is sitting put your case to him or her, although you will be up against an articulate and hostile senior Social Services official and the Social Services hostile solicitor.
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