Page last updated at 08:14 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 09:14 UK

Holiday 'care' family back home

Aparthotel Mourabel
The family have now returned home

A Northern Ireland couple who allegedly passed out drunk while their children were taken into care in Portugal have returned home.

Eamon and Antoinette McGuckin returned with their children, aged one, two and six, to their home in Maghera, County Londonderry on Tuesday.

At the weekend hotel staff in Vilamoura called police over concerns their children would not stop crying.

The family is expected to make a statement later on Wednesday.

SDLP Magherafelt Councillor Kate Lagan said the family needed to be left in peace.

"Something happened to make Antoinette extremely and violently ill on arrival in the hotel, and Eamon fell asleep," she said.

"I've spoken to relatives and they have said there is absolutely no way they were in a drunken stupor."

She said they called in to a bar on the way to the hotel after a day out and were back at the hotel by 2200 local time.

"Whatever happened to a drink that they had in that bar, it knocked them totally for six," she said.

She said she could not understand why Portuguese authorities took the action they did against the couple, who are from Upperlands.

Eamon McGuckin enters the family's apartment
The McGuckins arrived in Portugal on Friday afternoon

"How could you possibly go from escorting three children from a bar to being completely comatose in a hotel as suddenly as that?" she said.

Eamon McGuckin, 34, and his 32-year-old wife were rushed to a health centre in nearby Loule after arriving at the Aparthotel Mourabel for a week-long holiday on Friday afternoon.

The manager of the hotel said the couple and their three children went out for dinner nearby at about 2000 local time on Friday.

It is alleged that, upon their arrival back at the hotel about two hours later, Mr McGuckin passed out on a sofa in reception while Mrs McGuckin fell asleep in the bar.

A spokesman for the local police said they were contacted by hotel staff at 2200 local time because "the children were crying and they could not revive the parents, who were both out cold".

The parents were taken to hospital while social services dealt with the children, he added.

The children were returned to their parents on Saturday.

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