Equality For Fathers In Ireland

Equality For Fathers

Position of separated non-custodial parents as treated by the HSE

Deputy McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if the policy on the position of separated non-custodial parents as treated by the HSE in regard to guardianship as described in the referrals procedure of Louth disability services will be extended nationwide.

Read answer HERE

Guardianship Agreements.

Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has plans to establish a national register for joint guardianship agreements; if he has plans to allow grandparents become guardians of their grandchildren;if he has plans to introduce legislation regarding the guardianship of children and if this will require legislation;

See reply HERE

Guardianship Rights

Deputy P. J. Sheehan  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the guardianship rights of non-marital fathers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

Read answer HERE 

Child Custody

Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his response to the issues raised by an organisation (details supplied) with the Minister of State in relation to parental equality; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Read answer HERE

Guardianship Rights

Mr. McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the lack of directives to its social workers in the application of legal guardianship rights as afforded to fathers by law, in particular where an independent investigation into such practices has brought to light such repetitive behaviour in the Health Service Executive north-east region (HERE) and where the last such investigation concluded on 25 December 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

 Read answer HERE 

Custody Rights

Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the continued public concern regarding the limited rights of unmarried fathers in court cases determining child custody; the action he has taken or plans to take to improve custody rights for unmarried fathers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Read answer HERE

Child Custody and Access

Ms. Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the unprecedented levels of difficulty being experienced by fathers who are not in a marital relationship with the mother of their children in regard to access difficulties; if there are proposals for reform in the best interests of the child to provide protection under the law in respect of the right of unmarried fathers to have access to their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Read answer HERE

Custody of Children

Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the number of male parents who are impeded from contacting their children following a break up; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Read reply HERE. Note that the Minister did not actually answer the question he was asked

Separated Husbands

Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Justice if statistics are available for the number of husbands and fathers ordered out of their houses or joint property under the family law separation legislation; the research or analysis, if any, which is available on such data in relation to such men's whereabouts afterwards; if data is available in relation to the numbers which end up homeless; and if the constitutionality of this provision in no-fault separations has been tested.

Read answer HERE

Children’s Passports

Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has received reports of cases in which, following separation, one parent may withhold a child’s passport thus preventing the other parent from taking the child on holiday abroad with regard to the fact that children can no longer be included on a parent’s passport; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that it may not be feasible for aggrieved parents to pursue this matter repeatedly though legal channels; if he has proposals to remedy such situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Read answer HERE

Custody of Children

Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he intends taking to ensure that the judicial system makes the presumption to provide joint residency for children of divorced or separated couples; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

 Read answer HERE. "I do not wish to preach to the Judiciary on this matter but I hope its members are fully enlightened as to the sense of marginalization many fathers feel and take it fully into account, while at all times regarding the children’s interests as paramount".

Health Service Reform

Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children HERE when the guidelines entitled Procedure for Obtaining Consent for Non-Emergency Treatment/Service from Parents of Children and Young People Under the Age of 18 Years will be published.

The HSE answer is HERE

Medical Consent

Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has sanctioned the Health Service Executive advising HSE and medical nursing personnel that legally consent is only needed from one parent with parental responsibility for a medical examination or treatment to be provided to a child; her views on whether there is a difficulty in this area in the context of parents being joint guardians of their children; and if it is intended to enact more specific and detailed legislation to remove all ambiguity and difficulties that can arise.

Read answer HERE

Health Services

Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the consent form for the administration of the swine flu vaccine (details supplied); if it complies with the Health Service Executive guidelines for obtaining consent for non-emergency treatment or services from parents of children and young persons under the age of 18 years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. 

Read HSE reply HERE 

No Legal standing for Guardian Ad Litem

 Mr. Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when section 28 of the Guardianship of Infants Act, as amended by the Child Act 1997, which dealt with the appointment of guardian ad litem in certain circumstances, was commenced and put into legal effect and entered into force of law.

 Read answer HERE.

Read further question and answer HERE showing an inconsistency between ministers.

Rights of Unmarried Parents

Mr O'Keefe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to recent plans announced in the United Kingdom to give parental responsibility to some unmarried fathers; if he has similar proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

Further questions asked by Deputies Shortall, Ahearn and Higgins were answered HERE.

Health Services

Mr. Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children guidelines with regard to the seeking of parental consent for procedures, investigations and interventions carried out by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. Read Ministerial answer HERE and HSE response HERE. 

 The Guidelines HERE have since been published but are generally ignored.

Health Services

Deputies Shortall, Howlin and O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if consent to medical treatment for a child is only required from one person with parental responsibility or if, in accordance with the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, the consent of both parents is required.

Read answer HERE

Proposed Legislation

Deputy Morgan asked Minister for Justice and Law Reform if legislation to introduce equality for parents in respect of access to children is being considered; when any such legislation will be brought before the Dáil and the measures that may be included in any proposed legislation.

Read answer HERE

Social Welfare Benefits

Deputy Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs  the reason a split child benefit payment cannot be accommodated in the circumstances where estranged parents have joint custody of a child; the specific statutory provision which sets down that the payment must be provided to the mother in these circumstances and her views on whether this is consistent with equality legislation.

This question was not answered due to staff action. See HERE.

School Enrolments

Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education his position in relation to a child born in a marriage in which one of the parents has joint and equal guardianship and custody and this parent has not given consent for their child to be enrolled in a particular school and the child has been enrolled without the signature of the said parent and his views and guidelines to schools on these matters.

Read answer HERE 

Enforcement of Court Orders

Deputy McCormack tried to have the Minister for Justice and Law Reform address the matter of mothers breaching access orders but the question was not allowed. See HERE.

Fathers’ Rights

Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has commissioned research on the issue of fathers’ rights and his plans for legislative initiatives in the area of fathers’ rights. See replies HERE and HERE.

 

Court Judgements

Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the High Court judgment in the Mr. G case which gave recognition, for the first time, to the rights of unmarried fathers here under European law; if he envisages the need for changes to Irish law arising from the judgment. 

Read reply HERE

Family Law

Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to revise family law with regard to fathers’ rights and for compulsory mediation based on enunciated principles of fairness for a range of different situations as a prerequisite before any court appearances.

Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the various organisations such as Parental Equality, Parents against Discrimination, Unmarried and Separated Fathers and Treoir; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that they are critical of the current administration of family law, especially where it relates to men and grandparents.

 Read reply HERE

Family Law

Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will introduce legislation in the area of fathers’ rights. Read debate HERE.

Gender Discrimination

Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if, in relation to Ireland’s national report in advance of the UN Universal Periodic Review, there is reference only to women’s rights and gender equality and that discrimination against men who are fathers is not considered, despite certain cases at the Equality Tribunal, which indicated such discrimination.

Minister Shatter claimed that there wasn't enough room in the report, but the report was 500 words short of the permitted limit.

Read full reply HERE

Human Rights Issues

Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice if, with regard to the statement in the stakeholder summary report prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that, contrary to section 6 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 which confers joint guardianship to the mother and the father of a child, fathers are generally discriminated against, notably following separation or divorce, and the stakeholder recommendation that whenever consent is deemed necessary it should be sought from both legal guardians, there are any developments in this area; and if there are any plans to address this discrimination.

Minister Shatter claimed that "it may not always be practical for both parents to consent to each and every decision made about the child’s upbringing". 

Read reply HERE

Court Procedures

Deputy Clare Day asked the Minister for Justice the status of the review of the "in camera" rule as indicated in the national report to the recent Universal Periodic Review in which he stated his intentions to review this issue further with a view to ensuring that information on cases and outcomes is made public on a systematic basis and the steps he will take to overcome the unintended effect that there is little transparency or public awareness of what is happening in the family law .

Minister Shatter filed to answer the question directly and gave information that was already known to Deputy Daly: "Further to the commitment in the Programme for Government to modernise and reform aspects of family law, I have asked officials in my Department to review the operation of the in camera rule".

See full reply HERE.

Enforcement of Court Orders

Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applications that have been made following the failure of residential parents to comply with court orders; and the number of such parents that have been sanctioned by the courts in accordance with section 5(2) of the Courts (No. 2) Act 1986 since the introduction of the Act: see HERE

He later asked further to Parliamentary Question No. 280, the number of parents that have been sanctioned by the courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. See HERE.

Deputy Hannigan followed up the two earlier question HERE by asking the sanctions that have been applied in the 165 applications for the enforcement of court orders granted in 2010 and the 202 applications for the enforcement of court orders granted in 2009. The Minister declared that this answering the question"would require the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time and resources and it is therefore not possible to provide the level of detail sought". 

 However, the Annual Report of the Courts Service HERE  gives no indication of any parents being sanctioned or any such applications being made. 

Equality Issues-Education

Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills following the submission by Equality For Fathers to the UPR Secretariat (details supplied HERE) for the recent report to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, which made him aware of a number of Equality Tribunal cases taken by men acting as guardians on behalf of their children, the way he proposes to address the failure of schools to require joint parental consent for the enrolment of children.

 The reply by Minister Quinn HERE  indicates that he did not actually read the submission as it is almost identical to an earlier response HERE.

Equality Issues-Health Services

Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality following the submission by Equality For Fathers to the UPR secretariat (details supplied HERE) for the recent report to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, which made him aware of a number of Equality Tribunal cases taken by men acting as guardians on behalf of their children, the failure of hospitals to require joint parental consent for non-emergency booked admissions and the failure of the Health Service Executive to follow their own guidelines requiring joint parental consent for non-emergency services.

Minister Shatter refused to answer the question HERE, claiming he has "no operational role in relation to hospitals or the HSE", even though he has Equality in his portfolio,  and his Department claims HERE that it is "committed to initiating and supporting programmes that develop a more caring and tolerant society, where equality of opportunity is promoted and advanced. We continue to develop this work by addressing issues of equality, discrimination, tolerance and diversity in terms of gender, employment, racism, disability and any other sphere requiring attention".

Hospital Services 

Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if he will explain the inconsistent position applied to separated parents in the staff guidelines in relation to obtaining consent for children and young people as used by three children's hospitals in Dublin, the Health Service Executive document Legal Aspects of Immunisation and Staff Guidelines for Obtaining Consent for Non-Emergency Treatment and Services from Parents of Children and Young People Under the Age of 18 Years; if he will indicate which is the correct approach; and the way he intends to ensure that this is implemented.

The Minister did not answer the question directly but stated that "My Department is advised by the HSE that the issues raised by the Deputy have been the subject of specific consideration with a view to developing guidance on how the complexities of these matters may be addressed. The HSE sought and obtained legal advice on these matters and this is currently under consideration within the Executive".

See reply HERE.

Sexual Offences - Family Law Proceedings

Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding child sexual abuse. In his reply HERE the Minister claimed that "family law proceedings in the courts are held in camera. Under the law as it stands the giving of false evidence in any court proceedings, including family law proceedings, is an offence punishable by imprisonment. Any person who has knowledge of such false allegations should bring them to the attention of An Garda Síochána".

However, in a follow-up question HERE when asked "if a person who is party to family law proceedings is in breach of the "in camera" rule if they report the giving of false evidence in a family law hearing to An Garda Síochána" he replied "the giving of false evidence in any court proceedings, including family law proceedings, is an offence punishable by imprisonment. Since the offence is one that occurs before the court it is open to the court at any time to decide on the course of action that is required and, in the case of any difficulties, to give directions on the matter".

Series of Questions on Medical Consent

Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health his policy in relation to obtaining parental consent jointly when children are being vaccinated HERE.

He then asked if the consent of both guardians or parents is required when making a medical decision in the case of a child born within a marriage HERE.

This was followed up by asking further to Parliamentary Question No. 654 of 24 January 2012 regarding the issue of whether consent of guardians is required when making a medical decision in the case of a child born within a marriage, when he referred to the 2006 Health Service Executive guidelines on obtaining consent to clinical treatment in an acute hospital setting (HERE) but made no reference to the most recent document, staff guidelines for obtaining consent for non-emergency treatment-services from parents of children and young people under the age of 18 years (HERE), if he will explain the difference between both documents.

 Read reply HERE.