Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sensitivity to fathers needed in family courts, states Minister

According to this report by Liam Reid in today's Irish Times, (premium content) the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mr Seamus Brennan, has criticised the family courts as insensitive to the needs of vulnerable fathers.

Mr Brennan was speaking at the launch of a report for the Family Support Agency on vulnerable fathers and their families. (For more on the report see Report to seek 'father inclusive culture' below).

According to the Irish Times report the Minister said:

- In some cases the family courts have excluded vulnerable fathers from access to their families when it is not in the children's best interest.

- State organisations, such as the courts, need to be sensitive to the role of vulnerable fathers in terms of assessments of their ability to care for their children.

- Fathers should not be excluded from this process unless there were good reasons to do so. "This might not have been the case in the past," he said.

The report, Strengthening Families through Fathers, by Professor Harry Ferguson, of the University of the West of England, and Mr Fergus Hogan, of Waterford Institute of Technology, recommends an overhaul of the family law and social welfare systems to make them more father-friendly.

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