It is unacceptable for the rights of parents and children to be determined by whether or not they live in a traditional married family unit, a lone parents’ support group said today.
Almost 6,500 single parents contacted the One Family organisation last year, which is concerned about the lack of services for lone mothers and fathers.
This comes as a decision on the Mr G case, a potentially landmark legal battle for the rights of unmarried fathers, is soon expected from the High Court.
Mr G is taking an action to have his two year-old twin sons returned to Ireland after they were taken by their mother to England in December.
Karen Kiernan, One Family director said: “The G case and a number of other recent cases highlight the need for the Constitution, Irish law and services to reflect the diverse family forms living in Ireland today.
“It is no longer acceptable for the rights and responsibilities of parents and children to be largely determined by whether they live in a traditional married family or not.”
Speaking at the launch of the group’s annual report in central Dublin, she added One Family was concerned at the lack of support services for lone parent families nationwide.
“There is also a lack of services for families after they have been through a separation or divorce and find themselves in lone or shared parenting situations,” Ms Kiernan added.
The organisation has developed a range of services for all one parent families, including parent mentoring and adult guidance services.
These provide individual and group support for lone parents, both mothers and fathers.
Ms Kiernan said it was important that fathers, who face their own unique challenge in parenting alone, realise that support is available to them.
Meanwhile Minister for Social Affairs Martin Cullen, who launched the report, said that through improved employment prospects the threat of poverty and social exclusion experienced by single parents can be radically reduced.
“I note that One Family has stated that the results of this research will be used to support ongoing lobbying and to make recommendations to Government on how best to support lone parents,” he said.
“I welcome this and indeed my Department is supporting this research initiative for that very reason.
“It is my hope that the results of this study will also help my Department improve its supports to people parenting alone.”
He added a process to test new lone parent proposals in both an urban and rural setting will begin this month.