Ms Chen, a Chinese national travelled to Belfast in order to give birth to her daughter Catherine on the island of Ireland (i.e. in Northern Ireland or the Republic). The child was immediately registered as an Irish citizen as provided for under the Irish Constitution as it then stood. The family wished to reside in the UK but was refused permission to do so by the Home Office. To the Chinese government the child was an Irish national. As a foreigner she could apply to stay in the country of her parents for not more than 30 days at a time and then only with the permission of the authorities. The expulsion of Ms. Chen from the UK would therefore lead to the separation of mother and daughter.
The Court held that denying Ms. Chen the right to reside in the UK to be with her daughter, who enjoyed such a right, would be “manifestly” contrary to her daughter’s interests and would be contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to respect for family life. Ms Chen had to be able to invoke a right of residence deriving from that of her young child because the contrary would result in entirely depriving her daughter’s right to reside in the UK of any effectiveness.