Rights, Responsibilities and Children

A discussion of the Law Reform Commission report on legal aspects of family relationships

A One Family Seminar

The seminar was held on Monday 18 January 2010 in DIT, Aungier Street, Dublin 2, chaired by RTE Drivetime’s Mary Wilson.
Speakers included Geoffrey Shannon, special rapporteur on children; Fergus Ryan, family law lecturer in DIT;
family law solicitor Ciara Mathews of Gallagher Shatter and Candy Murphy, One Family Policy Manager.
The Law Reform Commission’s Consultation Paper on Family Relationships, launched in September 2009, examines changing patterns of family relationships, in particular how the law should approach the rights and responsibilities of fathers, step-parents, grandparents and other members of the extended family in contemporary Ireland, taking into account the best interests and welfare of children.
One Family held this seminar in order to inform our response and to provide clear information to other interested organisations. All can* (One Family’s campaigning and advocacy network) members were invited to attend as well as other family support providers who have a particular interest in this area.
The seminar focussed specifically on the following recommendations, topics and questions and provided informed comment on the implications of these proposals for Irish law, policy and practice:
  • Whether automatic guardianship (parental responsibility) for all fathers should be introduced.
  • Whether there should be a statutory presumption that a non-marital father be granted an order for guardianship (parental responsibility) unless to do so would be contrary to the best interests of the child or would jeopardise the welfare of the child.
  • Whether the distinction between birth registration and the allocation of guardianship (parental responsibility) should remain. This would be accompanied by provisions to encourage greater joint registration of births.
  • Should there be compulsory joint registration?
  • Should the current two stage procedure for applying for access (contact) by members of the extended family be removed.
  • Should rights and responsibilities be extended to other family members.
Everyone attending the seminar was encouraged to give their views on these important topics and the views of all can* members will inform our ultimate submission. We know that these issues really matter to you and we want to make sure that your voice is heard. To ensure that we consult with all can* members, including those who may not have been able to attend, we will make One Family’s draft submission to the LRC available for feedback . We would greatly appreciate it if you could send your email address to info@onefamily.ie so that we can alert you to this. Also feel free to let us know your views by post or phone.