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
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.