Coalition for YES welcomes divorce result

The Coalition for YES, a coalition of NGOs and lawyers, have welcomed the resounding YES vote in the divorce referendum.

Speaking as the results rolled in, executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Liam Herrick, said: Ireland is obliged by European and international human rights law and standards to protect the right to privacy and family life. With this vote, we have taken a huge leap towards protecting the rights of people who need a divorce. It will also help to ensure that people who are stuck in dangerous or financially and emotionally distressing situations can be freed from them.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family, said: This vote is a big step towards making Ireland a more compassionate and humane place for people going through a divorce. We know from our work with families separating that on a practical level it will reduce stress and financial expense for families.

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), said: FLAC welcomes the positive result today, this is a much needed step to reduce the pressure on divorcing couples navigating the legal system. However further progress is needed. There needs to be serious investment in the area of family law in particular with regards to the provision of legal aid and the much needed overhaul of the family law courts.

Keith Walsh, family law solicitor and Lawyers for Yes, said The result of the change to the constitution will help separating couples and their children. It is a victory for progressive changes to family law. Ministers Madigan and Flanagan deserve great credit for ensuring this referendum was brought and passed. But, in case they are resting on their laurels, there is still more reform of the family law system urgently needed. A dedicated family law court system is long overdue as is the immediate replacement of the Victorian courthouse currently used for District Court cases for the Dublin area. Basic resources are required to ensure the voice of the child is heard in the family law courts and to ensure the rights of children are vindicated and protected.

Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: This referendum was essential to address our punishing divorce laws. Children need to be protected during divorce. Our new divorce law and family supports need to be designed with this in mind. The Coalition for YES is a coalition of organisations and lawyers, led by the Free Legal Advice Centres, the Children’s Rights Alliance, One Family, family law practitioner Keith Walsh, solicitor Muriel Walls, Catherine Forde BL and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

ENDS:

Vote YES and make Ireland a more compassionate place.

By voting YES tomorrow you can help to change the lives of thousands of men, women and children across Ireland. People don’t marry thinking they will divorce but sometimes it happens and we need a compassionate and considered response to this reality.

In our work with couples and families separating, we see the devastation that the long wait period can have on each member of the family. Lives put on hold while they wait. Waiting that can breed conflict and resentment. We see people who have thoroughly moved on from the relationship, who obtained degrees, post-graduate degrees and started new families while they wait. 

Tomorrow please have a plan in place to get to your voting station to cast your vote; it is important. By voting YES, you can reduce some of the stress and conflict on these families. You will be able to give people the time they need to make the decision that is right for them and their children. A shorter divorce process can also be beneficial for children who will gain greater certainty about their family situation.

The referendum will not change the constitutional requirements that mean that before a divorce can be granted a Court must be satisfied that proper provision has been made for both spouses and their children and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation before a divorce can be granted.

The referendum also means that legally obtained foreign divorces can be recognised more readily in Ireland as this causes significant difficulties for many people who wish to remarry here.

Voting Yes means we can:

  • Remove unnecessary restrictions on divorce from the Constitution that cause uncertainty and conflict for families and children.
  • Make a difficult process more compassionate and give a couple the time they need to make the decision that is best for them and their children.
  • Recognise that the Constitution is not the right place to deal with complex personal issues.

Tomorrow please vote YES and make Ireland a more compassionate place.

Thank you.

Coalition for YES – Letter to the Editor of the Irish Times

Dear Sir,

The Irish electorate will be asked to vote in an important referendum on divorce this Friday. As a coalition of civil society organisations we are calling for a yes vote so that we can have a better, more compassionate process for people who need it.

On Friday, people will be asked to approve an amendment to the Constitution to remove the requirement for spouses to live apart for a minimum of four years out of the preceding five when applying for a divorce.  The new proposals would reduce that to two years out of the previous three.  For people who got divorced abroad, a yes vote means they will clarify the law on the recognition of foreign divorces.

By voting yes, we can reduce some of the stress and conflict linked to the divorce process. We will be able to give a couple the time they need to make the decision that is right for them and their children. A shorter divorce process will also be beneficial for children who will have greater clarity about their living situation. The referendum will not change the constitutional requirements that before a divorce can be granted a Court must be satisfied that proper provision has been made for both spouses and their children and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation before a Divorce can be granted.

The Constitution is not the right place to deal with complex personal relationships. By voting yes on Friday we can create a more compassionate and supportive divorce process for couples and families in Ireland.

Yours sincerely,

Orla O’Connor, Director, National Women’s Council of Ireland

Liam Herrick, Executive Director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive, FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres)

Keith Walsh, Lawyers for YES

Karen Kiernan, CEO, One Family

Divorce and the Constitution – Irish Times

askonefamily helpline develops new information resources for parents

The askonefamily helpline has developed the first in a series of new information resources to help one-parent families

These are the first in a series of new resources the Askonefamily helpline is developing to make information more accessible to parents.

About askonefamily

askonefamily provides information on: social welfare entitlements and issues, family law issues, housing, education, finances, childcare, parenting and community supports. We also offer support for those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.

Call a trained askonefamily team member on 01 662 9212* or email helpline@onefamily.ie.

One Family calls for change to the Parental Leave Act

(Dublin, Tuesday 15 May) On UN International Day of the Family, One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, separating and sharing parenting calls on the Government to change the Parental Leave Act to give lone parents the same leave entitlements as two parent families.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan explained: “While we warmly welcome the Parental Leave Act 2019 we are calling for Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, to change the provisions of the Act to give one-parent families the same leave entitlements as two-parent families.

“Our concern is that leave is to be non-transferrable between parents. So, while two-parent families can maximise the amount of time they spend with their babies, those who are parenting alone have only a limited period. We ask that the fourteen weeks of paid parental leave available to parents in a two-parent family is made available to a lone parent. This is in order to provide equal access for the baby to their parent in this critical time.”

Kiernan further comments: “Currently the only reference to transferring leave to an entitled parent in the Bill is where one parent dies, which means that the Scheme is recognising only one type of lone parent thus ignoring others. We call on the Minister to fix this anomaly.  There should be an exception made to the non-transfer rule for lone parents to other designated people and for the sake of their babies we are asking the Minister to make this change.”

Notes:

Read about the EU Work Life Balance Directivehttp://www.coface-eu.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/COFACE-Families-Europe-Assessment-on-the-EU-Work-Life-Balance-Directive.pdf

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to those working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-callaskonefamily national helpline on 1890 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, Director of One Family | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information

Noel Sweeney, Communications Manager | t: 01 662 9212 or 085 7241294

Leading national NGOs come together to call for a Yes vote in the upcoming Divorce Referendum

Leading national NGOs come together to call for a Yes vote in the upcoming Divorce Referendum

Five leading national organisations came together today in a coalition calling for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum in relation to divorce on Friday 24 May.

FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), One Family, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) and the Lawyers for Yes have all come together to call on voters in Ireland to support a referendum that will deliver a better divorce system for people who need it.

On 24 May, people will be asked to approve an amendment to the Constitution to remove the requirement for spouses to live apart for a minimum of four years out of the preceding five when applying for a divorce.  The new proposals would reduce that to two years out of the previous three. It is also proposed for the vote that foreign divorces are recognised here. There will be one question on the ballot paper and voters can either vote Yes to allow both changes, or No to reject both changes.

Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said: ‘We know from supporting thousands of separating parents and families that we need a more humane and compassionate divorce system in Ireland and this referendum is a step towards achieving that.’

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn, Head of Policy of NWCI explained: ‘Nobody marries imagining they are going to need to go through a divorce process. However, circumstances change and some couples will decide that divorce is the best way forward for them and their family. We should be supporting them in order to decrease the stress and conflict involved, not making it unnecessarily difficult.’

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of ICCL said: ‘We have repeatedly seen that our Constitution is not the right place for complex detail relating to family life – we believe that it is more appropriate to remove the wait time for divorce from the Constitution altogether and allow Government legislate in this area.’

Keith Walsh, Lawyers for Yes Campaign explained: ‘It is really important that we continue to take steps towards a complete reform of our divorce and family law system in Ireland to bring it into the 21st century. We still need to see the Family Law legislation published; new specialist child and family  court system as well as a new Children’s and Family Law Courthouse in Hammond Lane built; and appropriate resources for courts to deal with the current volume of work.’

Eilis Barry, Chief Executive of FLAC concluded by stating:

‘The irreconcilable breakdown of a marriagecan cause a great deal of stress both emotionally and financially for families. The current 4 year wait period is an extra unnecessary barrier to accessing a legal remedy for these families. This referendum is a chance to improve the process for those in an already difficult situation.

/ENDS

Contact:

Caroline Smith, FLAC Media and Communications Officer    01-887 3600 / 0862618543 Email: caroline.smith@flac.ie

Noel Sweeney, One Family Communications Manager          016629212 | 085-7241294 Email: nsweeney@onefamily.ie

Sinéad Nolan, ICCL Public Engagement and Communications Officer   0874157162 Email: sinead.nolan@iccl.ie

Spokespersons Contact:

  • Eilis Barry, FLAC Chief Executive – 0877542780
  • Liam Herrick, ICCL Executive Director – 0872351374
  • Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family – 0868509191
  • Keith Walsh, Solicitor, Lawyers for Yes Campaign – 01 455 4723  keith@kwsols.ie
  • To contact a spokesperson for the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI),

Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWCI, Tel. 085 858 9104

Links to organisations websites.

Who is looking after the Working Poor?

Who is looking after the Working Poor?

Government inaction on childcare and housing means that work does not pay for many one-parent families

[Dublin, 5 March] One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating said that Government inaction on childcare and housing means that work does not pay for many one-parent families. The statement comes following the publication of a new report from the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP), entitled Working, Parenting and Struggling, which found that the rate of in-work poverty among lone parents more than doubled between 2012 and 2017.

 CEO of One Family Karen Kiernan said, “Successive Governments have pushed one-parent families off social welfare but have failed to put adequate supports such as income supports, accessible childcare or housing supports in place to make work pay. This new report from SVP adds to the pile of Government-commissioned research and independent research all saying the same thing – the majority of lone-parents and their children are living way below the poverty line and forcing them off social welfare into low-paid precarious employment is not working.”

Ms Kiernan added, “The Indecon report (2017) which examined the impacts of Budget 2012 cuts on lone parents, said 63% of respondents in full-time employment couldn’t afford 3+ items on the deprivation list, meaning that they are experiencing deprivation daily, and in-work poverty. Who is concerned about the fact that they are fulfilling Government policy by working full-time but their children are suffering?

The SVP’s Working, Parenting and Struggling report states that lone parents in Ireland are almost 5 times more likely to experience in-work poverty than other households with children (20.8% compared to 4.2%). Figures that are backed up in the SILC report published in December 2018  which said that individuals living in households where there was one adult with children aged under 18 continue to have the highest consistent poverty rate at 20.7%. 

“Work should pay. Budget 2019 included a number of welcome improvements in income supports for one-parents families but more needs to be done. We are calling on Government to introduce targeted educational, employment, childcare and housing supports for the most vulnerable children and parents in our society so that we do not leave another generation behind.”  

Notes to editor:

About One Family: One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

One Family welcome Government’s decision on Divorce Referendum

Services must now be provided for family law

[Dublin, 29 January] One Family, Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting, and those who are separating warmly welcomes the Government’s announcement in relation to the upcoming Divorce Referendum in May.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan said: “The decision to ask the people to completely remove the waiting time from the wording of the Constitution and deal with it in legislation is the appropriate one. From our work with families separating we know that in most cases four years is too long for people to wait in order to apply for a divorce. The Constitution is not the place for complex and detailed personal issues to be dealt with.

She continued: “We look forward to a modernisation of the divorce legislation in Ireland and we take this opportunity to call on the Government to support people through this difficult process by providing critical services for parents and children who use the family law courts. This is standard across much of the world and we are sadly lagging behind. We are still awaiting publication of the Family Law Courts Bill and the new Dublin Children and Family Courts development in Dublin 7 has unfortunately stalled.”

Notes to editor:

About One Family One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191

 

Further Information/Scheduling

Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 01 622 9212 or 085 7241294

Press Release | One-Parent families now five times more likely than two-parent households to live in consistent poverty according to new Survey on Income and Living Conditions

One Family – Ireland’s organisation for people parenting alone and sharing parenting – reacted with alarm at the latest figures from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). The report shows that one-parent families are now five times as likely  to live in consistent poverty than two-parent households; this is an increase in the ratio from 2016 when the gap was four times as likely to live in consistent poverty. The report also shows that lone parents have the lowest disposable income and highest deprivation and at risk of poverty rates of all households with children in the State.

In 2017, individuals living in households where there was one adult with children aged under 18 continue to have the highest consistent poverty rate at 20.7% which is a decrease of 2.5% from 2016.This is compared to a consistent poverty rate of 3.9% for two-parent households. This means that lone parents are five times as likely to be living in consistent poverty compared to two-parent households.

Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, comments: “SILC results reflect and amplify what we keep saying. People parenting alone tell us through our askonefamily helpline and our mentoring, counselling, education and other support services, that they live in constant fear on the knife edge of poverty. While there were a number of welcome measures in Budget 2019 this unacceptably high poverty and deprivation rates for one-parent families continues. There are real families behind these figures and lone parents and their children are tired of waiting.”

Valerie Maher, One Family Policy & Programmes Manager, comments: “Lone parents are still struggling to meet the costs of living for themselves and their children. This includes the basics such as housing, food, heating and clothes. This is unacceptable and should not be normalised. More needs to be done to ensure that the government commitment to lift 95,000 children out of consistent poverty remains at the top of the political agenda. Increased access to education, affordable and accessible childcare and long-term housing solutions are needed now to reverse these unacceptable trends.”

One in four families in Ireland is a one-parent family. Research shows that a key contributor to children’s futures is not the structure of their families but living in consistent poverty.

/Ends.

About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish. It is Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting, or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.

These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 662212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today (www.familyday.ie).

SILC 2017 results can be viewed here.

One Family’s pre-budget submission can be read here.

For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.

We need your help…particularly Dads parenting alone or sharing parenting!

We need help…particularly from Dads parenting alone or sharing parenting. We represent and support all one-parent families. To help us be the best we can, we are asking you to take part in a quick, completely anonymous survey. It will take no more than 8-10 minutes to complete and will help us serve the needs of all one-parent families into the future. Thank you to everyone who has already completed the survey and if you know of anyone parenting alone or sharing parenting who might be interested in completely it please share. Thanks from all at One Family

Please click on the link below to complete the survey :
https://bit.ly/2pArSxM