A fathers’ rights group today secured the release of a man jailed for not paying child support.
The Separated & Unmarried Fathers of Ireland raised bail of €1,000 for the 40-year-old member of their group
The father, John Marques from Co Carlow, is currently appealing a prison sentence handed down by a family law court on July 28 for not paying €1,500 a month to his ex-wife and her three children.
Ray Kelly, funder of Separated & Unmarried Fathers of Ireland, said the man was the biological father of just one of the children and that he was happy to pay maintenance for that child.
More than 50 members of the lobby group staged a three-hour protest outside Mountjoy Prison today before the release.
Mr Kelly called on the justice minister Michael McDowell to investigate bias against separated and unmarried fathers within family law courts.
“Why was an innocent man put into prison for the non-payment of a bill,” he asked.
Mr Kelly also expressed concern about overcrowded conditions experienced by Mr Marques at Mountjoy Prison, which has seen one inmate murdered and several others stabbed in recent days.
He said: “There were flies. There was dirt. He slept for two nights on the floor. There were 14 people held in the cell with him. He said the conditions were absolutely appalling.”
“We feared for his safety given what has happened in Mountjoy in recent days.”
Mr Marques said afterwards: “I spoke to two Brazilians in there. They’re frightened for their lives. They want to be deported. They just want out of there.”
Mr Marques’ partner Delma Duddy added: “I think it’s absolutely atrocious.”
Mountjoy is planning new security measures including CCTV cameras and believes a new wing at Wheatfield Prison, West Dublin will help ease overcrowding concerns.