Singer Mark Feehily has called on the Government to prioritise introducing surrogacy legislation to support families like his.
Feehily and his fiancé Cailean O'Neill welcomed their daughter Layla in 2019. She was born via a surrogate in the United States. He has spoken publicly for the first time as part of a new video campaign by the Irish Families Through Surrogacy group.
“I'm a dad and this directly affects my child and my family,” the Westlife star told RTÉ.
“We don't tend to step up and step in when it's ourselves, but when it comes to your child, all of a sudden I'm on the news talking about politics. That's the furthest thing I ever would have done but the second it involves my child and her welfare, here I am on the news.”
Speaking on his daughter’s second birthday, Feehily said he rarely shares insights into his life as a dad to protect her privacy but hopes this will “create a better place for her to grow up in.”
He added the constant uncertainty around guardianship of a surrogate child often leads to stress and anxiety for parents.
“The psychology of it and the stress of constantly waking up and going to sleep knowing that you're not officially a child's legal guardian, everybody knows that parenting has its challenges and it's not the easiest thing in the world already, so to have all that extra stuff to worry about and stress about is just very unhelpful.”
Feehily said there needs to be a public push to change the legislation urgently as it affects a large number of families.
“We have to go through the process of changing it. I know it sounds like demanding stuff, but it really just does have to happen as a matter of urgency because until it does there's hundreds or thousands of children and families all over the country that are in a compromised position.”
The bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR), which includes surrogacy, is being drafted by Department of Health officials, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.