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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C Hannah and Catherine pictured with daughters Rilee and Kathleen.
# citizenship
An Irish woman in a same-sex marriage has two little girls - but only one can get an Irish passport
It’s down to what’s written on their birth certs.

AN IRISH WOMAN living in the UK has said it is “absolutely ridiculous” that one of her daughters cannot get an Irish passport because she is in a same-sex marriage.

Catherine Brancaleone-Phelan gave birth to her first daughter Kathleen in 2014 and her wife Hannah gave birth to their second, Rilee, in May 2016.

Children of Irish-born parents are entitled to Irish passports but when Catherine went to secure these for her daughter she encountered a problem.

Catherine, who is originally from Swords, first outlined those problems to the Northside People and explained that the problem stems from how the children of same-sex partners are registered in the UK.

On the UK birth certs of children of same-sex couples, parents are listed as either ‘mother and parent’ or ‘father and parent’, but not ‘mother and mother’ or ‘father and father’.

In the case of Kathleen, Catherine is listed as her ‘mother’ while in the case of Rilee she is listed as ‘parent’. This second listing has prevented Rilee from getting an Irish passport, even though Catherine is Irish and her parent.

“It was about September time when I contacted them and said, ‘look what’s going on here?’,” Catherine told

Because I confronted them with ‘is this because of Rilee, because I’m not her birth mother?’ And then I got a phonecall from someone called James, who was very, very apologetic but confirmed that it was the reason.

Senator David Norris has been working on behalf of Catherine and her wife Hannah and raised the situation with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

Coveney wrote back to Norris and acknowledged that in the case of children born outside of Ireland to an Irish parent, “a parent is understood to mean either the ‘mother’ or ‘father’ of the child.”

Catherine is now pregnant with twins and faces the prospect of having four children with the same parentage, three whom are entitled to an Irish passport and one who is not.

“So I probably won’t even bother, because what I didn’t want and what I was very clear about, was do not send me Kathleen’s passport because I don’t want a situation in the future where I have to explain to one of my daughters, I was able to get you one but not you.”

Catherine adds that they had considered moving back to Ireland in the future but they may not now if this problem persists.

We did think at some point in the future we’d go to live in Ireland, particularly in light of the marriage equality situation. And now since this situation has been highlighted I’ve heard so many other stories where same-sex parents have encountered real issues and I don’t think that’s the right environment for my girls to grow up in.

“I don’t want them to feel different. I think what it means for us is that any thought we had of having a life in Ireland in the future are certainly unlikely now, particularly in the near future,” she said.

Read: Minister ‘inspired’ after meeting with young transgender and non-binary people >

Read: ‘Contempt for women reaches a new low’: Trump administration rolls back free birth control access >

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