Sea of Santas highlights plight of separated parents

A COLOURFUL parade of Santas through Dublin’s city centre yesterday highlighted the bitter-sweet message that Christmas is a time for families, including separated parents.

The annual “Sea of Santas” event is run as part of an awareness campaign by Unmarried and Separated Families of Ireland – an organisation promoting the role of non-marital and separated parents in the family unit.

Around 70 people dressed in Santa Claus outfits took part in the parade to highlight the trauma experienced by broken families at Christmas time.

USFI spokesperson Ray Kelly said the event was used to highlight how many fathers and mothers would not get to see their children this Christmas because of family breakdown. Mr Kelly said yesterday’s parade was also held to commemorate the memory of 20 of the group’s members who had taken their own lives because they had been failed by the family law system in Ireland.

He claimed separated fathers had been adversely affected by hearsay evidence being allowed in courts in family law cases.

“It ensures that children do not get to see their real hero this Christmas, their father,” said Mr Kelly.

The group marched from the family law courts at Dolphin House to O’Connell Bridge where a minute’s silence was held as 20 wreaths were dropped into the River Liffey in memory of the 17 men and three women, separated parents who had died by suicide.

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