The children were aged 9 and 7 respectively at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. The parents were married in Ireland in January 1981 and had six children. The application only concerned the youngest two children. The parents separated in March 1999, with the mother leaving the children with the father.
On 10 June 1999 the mother made an application to the District Court for custody and access to the children. The application was not proceeded with. On 7 November 2000 a further application was made for custody and access. On 7 February 2001 the court directed that the mother be allowed supervised access to the children. The court further ordered that the case be reviewed on 6 June 2001.
Some time in early 2001 the father took the children to Scotland. On 9 May 2001 the father was sentenced in his absence to three months imprisonment in respect of his breach of the access order. The mother then petitioned for the return of the children.