Compulsory registration of birth certificates will require
General Register Office to be highly trained
One Family – Ireland’s organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting – today welcomed the publication of the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 whilst also warning about the problems that will arise in some difficult cases requiring sensitivity and transparency from the country’s registrars.
The new Civil Registration Bill has some far reaching impacts for children and parents in one-parent and diverse families. The main change is that it will now be compulsory for a father’s name to be provided by a new mother and for the father to register themselves on the birth certificate. Exceptions can be made to this where the father’s identity or whereabouts are unknown by the mother or where she can furnish proof that it would not be in the best interests of the safety of the child to contact the father and register his name.
Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family said: “It is very much in the interest of the vast majority of children to know and have a legal and social relationship with both of their parents and it relatively rare that father’s names are not on birth certs – approximately 6% of all certificates. However there are exceptional circumstances where it may not be safe for a father to be identified and contacted and the burden of proof will need to be carefully considered so that it is not too onerous for those women who have been subjected to rape, incest or violence.”
Kiernan continued: “The General Register Office personnel will need to configure their offices so that confidential and highly sensitive information can be shared by parents. They will require expert training and support to deal with the issues that may arise and a transparent system of how the registrar accepts or rejects evidence on exceptional circumstances. It would be extremely helpful if this new Bill can be accompanied by an information campaign targeting parents not married to each other so they have clarity on what joint birth registration means for them and their children. One Family is glad to see that the Minister has progressed from the argument that this is needed to save social welfare expenses to seeing that this is an important issue for children.”
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-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 622 212, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes the Family Day Festival, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today, with 10,000 people attending in 2013 (www.familyday.ie). For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie.
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191