50th Anniversary Symposium Event | 13 October 2022

The Symposium will celebrate the establishment of One Family/Cherish and our guest of honour will be Cherish’s first President and seventh President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

Location | Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) Headquarters, Green Street, Dublin 7, D07 CR20

Date | Thursday, 13 October 2022

Time | The event runs from 2pm until 5pm with registration open from 1.30pm and reception from 5pm – 6pm

Symposium Schedule

  • 1.30pm Registration – tea/coffee

  • 2pm Introduction by Mary Henry

  • 2.10pm Keynote by Mary Robinson

  • 2.30pm Anna Lee, former Social Worker in Cherish re 1970s

  • 2.45pm Video 1 | Reader 1: Dr Phil Mullen, TCD

  • 3pm Mary Kerrigan – reflections on Clare/Limerick branch of Cherish

  • 3.15pm Sylvia and/or Holly Cairns re purchase of Pembroke St building

  • 3.30pm Comfort break

  • 3.40pm Video 2 | Reader 2: Andy P – maybe

  • 3.50pm Lindsey Earner-Byrne – Cherish Archives and lessons for today

  • 4.15pm Niamh Kelly, Policy Manager – challenges for one-parent families now

  • 4.35pm Video 3 | Reader 3: Lynn Ruane/Katriona O’Sullivan

  • 4.40pm Sinead Gibney, Chief Commissioner of IHREC | a human rights perspective, what is needed next? Art 41.3?

  • 4.55pm Closing by Chair and thank yous/name checks

A Brief History of Cherish/One Family

“I didn’t start Cherish, Cherish started itself.”

Maura O’Dea Richards

In1972 a group of unmarried mothers set about reaching others in the same situation – by word of mouth and inserting small ads in newspapers. In October they formed a self-help group which began to meet in Maura O’Dea’s home in Dublin.

The group began to look at the particular problems facing members. These were varied and serious. Single pregnant women were under pressure to have their children adopted. Some women were rejected by their parents when they became pregnant. Some lost jobs, others flats, many were penniless and panic-stricken. Children born out of wedlock were considered illegitimate and suffered legal disadvantages. Talking about these issues helped. At the meetings the women found friendship, understanding and practical support.

Founding member Colette O’Neill suggested Cherish as a name for the group. This was taken from the 1916 proclamation of the public: “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally.” The name was adopted.

The association was formed into a limited company with six directors and a president, the then Senator Mary Robinson.

Every three years, we set out our goals and objectives for the short-term future in a strategic plan. When developing our Strategic Plan for 2004–06, it became clear that society was very different and that one-parent families now existed in many forms in Ireland. In recognition of these changes, we extended our services to all members of all one-parent families and renamed ourselves One Family.

Today, while society has progressed, many of the same barriers that must be overcome by people parenting alone as they attempt to access employment and education remain; and the Constitution, far removed from the reality for today’s families, still only recognises the married family form.