Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Irish case may force ruling on unmarried fathers' rights

An unmarried father is to take a case to the High Court in an attempt to have his two-year-old twin sons returned to him in Ireland from England, says this story by Ronan McGreevy in today's Irish Times. They were taken by their mother to Manchester from the couple's home in January.

A leading family law expert said last night that the case had the potential to be "hugely significant" in forcing the Irish courts to make a ruling on the rights of unmarried fathers.

When the father took a case to a court in England seeking the return of the children, Mrs Justice Mary Hogg said it was not appropriate for her to make a ruling on returning the children to Ireland.

The custody of the children was a matter for the Irish courts, she said.

The man, know as Mr G, with the support of the Unmarried Fathers of Ireland group, is now seeking an urgent High Court hearing in Ireland to determine if he has the right to custody of the children. He said he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if that right was not vindicated in the High Court.

Unmarried Fathers of Ireland spokesman Donnacha Murphy said they would look for a High Court date by the end of this week and the case had the potential to become a landmark judgment. "The facts of this case would appear to constitute an ideal case for the consideration of discrimination within Irish family law legislation," he said.

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