Two of the appellants were a non-national married couple who came to Ireland from London in 1981. They failed to report to an immigration officer, as required and stayed longer than a month without the Minister’s permission. They had a son in 1983. In 1984 their situation came to the attention of the Department of Justice and the Minister asked the husband to leave the State, although no deportation order was made. The appellants sought to restrain the Minister from issuing a deportation order on the ground, inter alia, that their child was a citizen of Ireland and entitled to the protection of his rights under Articles 40 41 and 42 of the Constitution, had a right to remain resident in the State and had a right to be parented within the State.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal but held that where non-nationals had resided for an appreciable time and become a family unit within the State with children who were Irish citizens, then such Irish citizens had a constitutional right to the company, care and parentage of their parents within the family unit. The Court stated that before making a deportation order the Minister would have to be satisfied that the interests of the common good and the protection of the State and its society are so overwhelming in the circumstances of the case as to justify the breaking up of the family. The Court granted the appellants liberty to apply afresh to the High Court should the Minister subsequently attempt to deport them without fulfilling his obligations.