Friday, May 18, 2007

Groups for separated fathers in Ireland growing

More and more groups for separated fathers are setting up in Ireland, judging by the forum section of dads-house. It lists groups in Dublin, Longford, Waterford, Donegal, Mayo, Limerick, Listowel, Portlaoise and Kilkenny. The website boasts an endorsement from Bob Geldof saying "I fully support the dads-house campaign to get equal rights for Fathers." The following comment which McDavitt has just left on an earlier post provides an idea of some of the frustrations experienced by fathers involved in the campaign for equal rights:

"I consented to the custody of our children being granted solely to my wife. However, I was unaware of this as it was negotiated between my wife's solicitor and my own without my knowledge. A complaint I made to the Law Society about this behaviour resulted in my receiving a refund of €3,500. However, I still do not have joint custody of our children which results in constant discrimination by State institutions such as the HSE and the school our children attend. I was effectively removed as a parent to our children but the official record shows that I "consented" to this.

Fathers don't matter. Children are seen as the property of mothers, single or married, whereas fathers have no rights. Fathers might believe that they have rights but, on separation, suddenly discover that they are expendable. Fine Gael propose to introduce paid paternity leave but the reporting of the family policy ignored this in both the Irish Independent and the irish times."

It's clear from his comment that €3,500 doesn't even begin to make up to this man for having his rights ignored by his own solicitor.....


Slim Jim said...

Not only are the amount of groups for separated fathers growing but there is now a political party contesting the upcoming general election. You might be interested in checking them out at Don't know if they'll have any success due to the lack of media coverage but at least they're trying.
I often wonder at the plight of separated fathers in this day and age due to the fact that we have had one in charge of all our destinies for the past ten years!

cathal said...

I'd like to direct Slim Jim to the article below about the Fathers Rights Party. I read the article and penned the following letter which was printed in the Independent. As far as I remember, there was only one reply which I will try and dig out from their archives. Maybe if more separated fathers became active, society might respond.

Why I will be fighting in this election for the forgotten rights of fathers

Liam O’Gogain from Dundalk, leader of the Fathers’ Rights Party

Monday April 23rd 2007
One-third of Irish children are now born outside marriage. These 20,000 infants who enter the world every year have one thing in common - no legal right to know their father.
The current situation is simple. Mothers in Ireland, irrespective of whether they are married, have automatic guardianship of their children. While married fathers are also entitled to joint guardianship, the bias always favours the mother. Unmarried fathers have no such rights, and if the mother of the child refuses to acknowledge the father, his only option is to battle through the courts for gain guardianship rights.
Now the Fathers' Rights Party is joining the political fray for the upcoming general election, seeking to end this discrimination against fathers and their children. "Being a man means you are an absolute second-class citizen in this country," says Liam O'Gogain, leader of the Fathers' Rights Party. "It is indoctrinated into our society and legal system that women are the primary parent and men do not have equal rights.
"Fathers find themselves pushing against a barrier of incompetence and ignorance," he says. "State institutions, schools and everything else are not set up to deal with this situation. They do not recognise such a thing is possible or could exist.
"The role of fatherhood today is 100 times worse than it was in the past. And that is even though we have the Equality Authority and other legislation in place. "The public has been seduced into the concept that we have an equitable process. But this is very far from the truth; men are more alienated than ever."
His political party's aspirations are straightforward: to raise the profile of the plight of Irish fathers. The target is to gain 500 to 1000 first preference votes in every constituency in which his candidates stand in the election.
"The massive increase in births outside marriage means that socially there has been great change but Irish law has not moved forward," says O'Gogain. "Fathers still have no say and no rights when it comes to their kids. "The cultural prescription in the State is that the best interest is served by focusing on what the mother does. The presumption is that she will have the total set of tools to look after the child.
"The parallel is that there are huge problems with the young male population in this country. These are things like the rate of male suicide (82% of suicide victims are men), road deaths, poor academic performance, lack of self-esteem and other such problems."
Ireland is not the only battlefield when it comes to fathers' rights. 'Few countries throughout the globe have managed to successfully legislate for the changing nature of the family structure and role of men in society. When Tina Rayburn, co-author of I Want to See My Kids! A Guide for Dads Who Want Contact with Their Children After Separation (due to be published in June), researched the topic, she found similar problems around the world.
"Until people acknowledge the current system is flawed and has an overriding female bias, it will be difficult to see anything changing," she says. "There are two core problems. I don't think the courts recognise a child can live happily in two homes and they are loath to take a child away from its mother. From a public point of view, there is still a perception that these guys have done something wrong and they don't deserve to see their children.
"I think people are ignorant of the emotional impact of not being able to see your children. Men are still expected to put up, shut up and not make much of a fuss." For any change to take place society's stereotypical image of the male and the family needs re-evaluating. "I think when traditional values start to break down the whole family becomes a lot more complicated," says Rayburn. "We need to get away from stereotypes and focus on the reality and the negative impact current legislation can have on the modern family."
O'Gogain agrees: "Men are confronted with stereotypes, such as football hooligans and other negatives. Men are put in boxes and are hit with things like they can only perform one task at a time and that they do not share their feelings. We need to move on. We need to put fatherhood back into the neighbourhood."
The slow process towards change, however, has already begun. The All-Party Joint Oireachtas Committee On The Constitution is currently reviewing the main provisions in relation to the family. The Government has already published a report, 'Strengthening Families Through Fathers', which examined how to ensure fathers are included in child care and family support work.
When the study was launched Minister for Social and Family Affairs Martin Brenan commented: "The findings make it clear that we should be re-examining our attitudes to some fathers and their role in the family. It is highlighted in this report that vulnerable fathers love their children just as much as other parents."
The key to future policy, according to Minister Brennan, should be the underlying notion that men need to be directly included as fathers unless there is very good reasons to exclude them. John Malone
Fathers and the law
The nature and structure of the Irish family is changing with an increasing number of children being born outside of marriage. While the Constitution is currently under review to find suitable ways to reflect these changes, the law at present remains unchanged.
The following are some of the current legal principles surrounding fathers and their rights:
* The non-marital family is not recognised under Irish law.
* By law, an unmarried mother is the sole guardian of a child born outside of marriage.
* Unless the mother agrees to sign a statutory declaration, an unmarried father must apply to the court in order to become a legal guardian of his child.
* In cases of judicial separation or divorce, one parent is usually granted custody. It is possible for parents to continue to have joint custody of their children after separation/divorce and for the children to spend an equal amount of time with each parent if the parents can agree and arrange this.
© Irish Independent &

Unfair to the married dad

Thursday April 26th 2007
In relation to your report on the newly formed Fathers Rights Party (Irish Independent, April 23), the focus seems to be on unmarried fathers and the law. I believe that the focus should be on married fathers who are positively excluded by State institutions.
Schools throughout the country have adopted a separation policy based on the guidelines of the Irish Primary Principals Network which states that "In the absence of a custody arrangement, both parents will be treated as equal partners in terms of parenting rights and responsibilities".
As 85pc of separations result in the mother retaining primary care of the children, this policy excludes fathers from their legal role as guardians to their children.
Parents should be treated equally regardless of custodial arrangements.
Furthermore, the HSE have been ignoring legal advice for years, despite a recent report stating that "Each of a child's guardians is responsible for the child's overall welfare and upbringing. Each guardian must make decisions and, accordingly, must be consulted about decisions in relation to matters of importance concerning a child's upbringing, for example, where the child should be educated, in what religion (if any) she ot he should be reared.
The HSE still requires the consent of only one parent in relation to most child services.
The law recognises married fathers' rights but as long as schools and the HSE refuse to do so, what chance do unmarried fathers have?

© Irish Independent & http://www.unison.

cathal said...

Here's the letter in the Irish Independent I mentioned in my last comment.

Fathers out in the cold
Tuesday May 01 2007

Cathal Garvey (Letters, April 26) points out how schools and the HSE discriminate against separated fathers. He explains that even though "the law recognises married fathers' rights", these men are "positively excluded by State institutions".

Exclusion of the father in Irish society is having a profound effect.

This is seen everywhere, from spiralling levels of drug and alcohol misuse, to elevated levels of teenage pregnancy and young male suicide.

Ireland is the fifth highest ranked EU country as regards suicides among 15 to 24 year olds. In its report last October, the Health Service Executive revealed that men under 35 accounted for 40 per cent of suicides in Ireland in 2005. The report also claimed there are 11,000 cases of self - harm requiring hospital treatment each year, a majority of whom are girls aged between 15 and 19.

International research shows a clear correlation between long-term absence of the father and increased rates of teen pregnancy. The results of a longitudinal study, carried out in The USA and New Zealand by a team led by psychologist Bruce Ellis of the University of Canterbury, were published in 2003.

The teen pregnancy rate was found to be nearly 8 times as high among girls who were no more than 5 years old when their fathers departed as among girls in two-parent families. The pregnancy rate among girls who were between 6 and 13 years old when their fathers left was about three times that of two-parent teens.

At a time when young people need their father's love, guidance and wisdom like never before, why are barriers being put in their way by institutions of the State? PATRICK MCGINNITY, KEADY, COUNTY ARMAGH