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One-parent group criticises proposed law to name fathers on birth certs

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is proposing legislation to force the naming of dads on birth certificates.

PLANS BY SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton to introduce legislation that will compel mothers to name the father of their children on the child’s birth certificate are being criticised by One Family as a “blunt instrument”.

Karen Kiernan, director of One Family has said that she’s surprised that this issue is being prioritised, as she understood that it wasn’t going to be looked at until next year.

Kiernan told TheJournal.ie that there are bigger issues concerning her organisation, in particular budget changes introduced last year and the fact that one parent families have less money in their pockets.

She said that there are a lot of negative changes happening at the moment that require more urgent attention.

According to Senan Moloney in the Irish Daily Mail Burton will tell the Dáil today that she’s wants the Government’s approval to amend the Civil Registration Act.

The legislation would ensure that fathers are named on birth certificates and Minister Burton has said that the main reason for the proposal is to ensure that each child has as much information as possible about their identity.

Irish law does not currently require a father’s details to be included in the birth certificate, though married parents would routinely include both details. There are a number of options for unmarried parents to register a child’s parental details if they so wish.

The formal register of births only records the names of the child and its mother, however.

Blunt instrument

Karen Kiernan says that this proposed legislation is a ‘blunt instrument’ and that what is needed is an information campaign about how to register a child’s father. In response to concerns that mothers fear that their social welfare entitlements will be affected if a child’s father is named, Kiernan said this is not the case.

She said again that an information campaign would create awareness and remove that fear. She did acknowledge that this social welfare issue may change in the future though.

She said that while it is important for children to know where they come from, legislating on this issue is not the answer.

Issues such as sperm donors, cases of violence, abuse or rape, and where a father simply refuses to be named have all been highlighted as necessary exemptions to the legislation.

In January the Families Fathers and Friends group welcomed the proposed new legislation, but said problems with family law could only be truly reformed by the creation of specialised family courts.

The move was recommended in a 2010 report by the Law Reform Commission which said that two names should be present on the birth certificate of a child, with very limited exceptions.

New law may make it compulsory to include father’s name on birth cert>

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Emer McLysaght

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