Five-year-old Illinois-born Jack Redmond boarded an Aer Lingus plane from O’Hare to Dublin at 6:45pm last night unaccompanied by his American mother. In accordance with a court order Jack is being returned to his father in Ireland, his family told the Irish Voice.
Jack’s father, Derek Redmond, is “ecstatic” to have his son returned, his lawyer, David Schaffer, told the Irish Voice.
In contrast, Jack’s mother, Mary Redmond, and his maternal grandmother in Illinois only barely managed to stifle their sobs in phone interviews with the Irish Voice, during which the child was audible in the background. (The shared last name between Jack’s parents is purely coincidental, and the parties were never married.)
“I said to [my son] this morning, ‘I’m so sorry,’ and he said, ‘It’s okay, Mommy. I’m brave and I’m strong. It’s not your fault,’’” Mary Redmond told the Irish Voice. “It broke my heart.”
After a custody battle protracted since March 2008 and litigated in both Ireland and the United States, a federal court ruled that under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Jack must return to Ireland on or before July 9, 2012.
Jack’s mother, Mary Redmond, had removed him to Illinois after an Irish court awarded joint custody to Jack’s father, Derek Redmond of Ballymurphy, Co. Carlow, in February 2011. Ms. Redmond was permitted by the Irish court to remove her son from the country to settle their affairs in the US on the condition that she swear under oath to return with him to Ireland by March 2011. Ms. Redmond instead remained in Illinois with her son and initiated custody proceedings in the state.
The federal court under the Hague Convention ruled that Ms. Redmond’s failure to return her son to Ireland after the Irish court’s judgment was unlawful, and ordered the child and his mother to return to Ireland, where the father could exercise his joint custody rights under Irish law.
Ms. Redmond and her lawyer stated their worry that if Ms. Redmond ever set foot in Ireland, she would face arrest and imprisonment for contempt of court due to her failure to return Jack in March 2011. The child’s grandmother, Peggy Redmond, accompanied him on the plane instead.
Mary Redmond remains behind in Illinois, where she will work with her lawyer on an appeal to the federal decision, her lawyer, Sarane Siewerth, said in an interview with the Irish Voice.
“If I can’t get my son home [through the appeal], then I’ll go face whatever they have for me,” Mary Redmond told the Irish Voice. “I just need to be near him.”
Peggy Redmond told the Irish Voice that she worries Jack will be legally required, according to his father’s wishes, to stay in Ireland until he is no longer a minor. She worries Jack’s mother will be unable to visit him without facing arrest, and said an Irish marshall was present at the federal hearing with an Irish arrest warrant for Mary.
But according to the 2011 Illinois state decision in the custody matter, for which the state court communicated with the Irish court, “The [Irish] Court indicated that it was not going to incarcerate Ms. Redmond for violating its orders, because she has a four-year-old child for which to care.”
Mr. Redmond’s lawyer also said that neither the Irish court system nor his client had any desire or intention to incarcerate the mother if she returned to Ireland. Mr. Redmond said his client had always promoted the idea of Jack spending some time in the United States with his mother and her family, and would continue to arrange a plan for Jack’s visits once his plane landed in Ireland.
The whole saga started in 1996, when Mary Redmond, who was born in the United States but additionally holds Irish citizenship through her Irish-born father, attended college in Ireland and began a relationship with Derek Redmond, of Ballymurphy, Co. Carlow.
The couple lived together in Ireland for a decade, where Ms. Redmond worked and pursued a second degree before her pregnancy in 2006.
By mutual agreement of the parents, Jack Redmond was born in Illinois on March 28, 2007. Both parents returned with the child- who holds dual citizenship- to Ireland when the child was eleven days old.
According to the federal court, the parents’ return to Ireland demonstrated their mutual intent to raise Jack there.
However, according to Ms. Redmond’s mother, Derek Redmond verbally agreed to start a steel welding business in Illinois with Ms. Redmond’s father, and his return to Ireland with Mary and their son was always a temporary arrangement for the purpose of settling his business affairs.
Mary Redmond left Derek Redmond permanently on November 10, 2011, multiple courts found, taking their son with her to Illinois.
The Cook County district court’s ruling, which was based solely on Mary Redmond’s testimony, states under ‘Findings’ that “Mr. Redmond was clearly abusive.”