Fathers4Justice campaigner explains why he stormed Rose of Tralee stage

The man who sparked national headlines by storming the stage at Monday's Rose of Tralee says he did so to highlight the inequality and lack of rights facing fathers and fathers-to-be and to break the wall of silence surrounding an issue he believes should be a national scandal.

In an opinion piece for the Irish Examiner the founder of Fathers4Justice, Matt O'Connor, said his protest was against the inequality facing men and fathers in the family courts, the stigma attached to many men following family breakdowns and the unfair nature of the existing child support system.

He suggested his protest was the start of an escalation of his group's campaign.

"Imagine the outrage if 100,000 Irish children were denied access to their mothers in this way and imagine the outcry if mums had no right in law to see their children and they had to battle through secret family courts to see them?" he said.

The Kerry man went on to suggest this inequality was "contributing to a public health emergency as desperate dads are driven into depression and suicide".

In his submission Mr O'Connor went on to suggest that protests would continue until fatherhood was recognised in law or in the constitution.

"Unmarried fathers have no rights, even if their name is on the birth certificate. The Government recently introduced ridiculous and discriminatory legislation stating that unmarried dads have to meet various ‘cohabitation requirements’ to be awarded guardianship, yet ruthlessly pursue these same dads if they miss a a single child support payment.

"Worse still, if you have the misfortune to find yourself fighting to see your children in the purgatory that is the family courts, the court orders that are issued are rarely, if ever, enforced. Not only does this make a mockery of our idea of justice, but it’s a license for contact denial and revenge parenting, encouraging recalcitrant mothers to break the law with impunity."

Mr O'Connor concluded by suggesting sooner or later Irish society would need to confront "the unexploded bomb of family breakdown and mass fatherlessness."

You can read his full submission here.

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