Pat Kenny interviews Treoir
Click here to Listen to Pat Kenny interviewing Beatrice Cronin of Treoir about new rights for unmarried parents.
Treoir welcomes a new CEO
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Greg Straton as the new CEO of Treoir. Greg joins us from the Asylum Services Initiative SPIRASI with a proven track record in advancing human rights and social justice.
Greg brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the post and is very well equipped to advance the mission of Treoir, to meet the challenges ahead and to avail of opportunities to benefit the organisation. The council and staff of Treoir extend a very warm welcome to him.
Retirement of Margaret Dromey, CEO of Treoir
Margaret Dromey CEO, Margot Doherty Retired Assistant CEO, Dr. Ruth Barrington Chair
Treoir hosted what was a bittersweet celebration last week when we said goodbye to the woman whose name has been synonymous with that of Treoir for so many years. To mark the occasion, friends, colleagues and her family joined Margaret for this celebration of her wonderful career. Ruth Barrington, the Chairwoman of Treoir, in paying tribute to Margaret spoke of her many achievements in a career spanning four decades, from the early days in the 1970s to the present when so much has been achieved to improve the status of unmarried families in Irish society.
Margaret was also paid warm tributes by former Chairwoman and honorary member of Treoir, Gemma Rowley, by former work colleague of many many years, Margot Doherty and finally by Brenda Forde, a current long standing member of staff.
Margaret, we wish you health and happiness in your life after Treoir!
Maternity and Infant
Check out Treoir’s latest article regarding two important pieces of family legislation which has been published in the "Maternity and Infant” December 2015 issue.
Neither of these pieces has yet been commenced.
Changes to One-Parent Family Payment (OFP)
On the 2nd July 2015 entitlement to One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) ends where the youngest child has reached 7 years.
Approximately 31,850 lone parents in receipt of OFP will no longer be eligible for OFP from July 2015.
Over the coming months the Department of Social Protection will send out letters to parents informing them of what will happen when their payments cease.
- Parents in receipt of OFP and Family Income Supplement will receive a letter regarding their situation. See sample letter.
- Parents in receipt of OFP and half rate Carer’s Allowance will receive a letter regarding their situation.
- Some parents will be invited to an information seminar where they will be given information about the other social welfare payments that they may qualify for when their OFP payment stops. See sample letter.
Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 was signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins on the 6th of April 2015. We now await the commencement of this legislation.
The Government is preparing to activate parts of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. The Act was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins in April 2015 but its provision will not come into force until formal commencement orders are signed. Some parts of the legislation will not be activated for at least a year. Three departments – Justice, Children and Foreign Affairs – must sign separate commencement orders for the Children and Family Relationships Act to come into force. A spokesman for the Department of Justice, which is responsible for most sections of the legislation, said it was “proceeding with preparations” for the commencement of those parts but could not say when it would be done. The spokesman said the department was already in discussions with the Courts Service on the rules of court that would be needed to activate the provisions on guardianship, custody, access and maintenance.
Children and Family Relationships Bill
There is something now in the Bill for
Amendments made to the Children and Family Relationships Bill will mean that a Birth Registrar will be empowered to witness a statutory declaration for joint guardianship, signed by the mother and father, appointing the father as a guardian. This can be done when the birth of the child is being registered (or re-registered) or within 14 days of the registration. The Bill already includes automatic guardianship rights for unmarried fathers who have been cohabiting with the mother for 12 months 3 of which must be post birth. Read Press Release here
Treoir, together with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, members of the Children's Rights Alliance and others, celebrated the publication of the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 at a seminar on the Bill in Dublin Castle on Monday 2nd February 2015.
“Treoir supports the enactment of this legislation but it is calling for some specific amendments to ensure that inequalities relating to unmarried fathers and their children are finally tackled” Margaret Dromey, CEO Treoir said. Download Press Release
See - Children and Family Relationships Bill as passed by Dail Eireann (March 2015)
- Listen to our CEO Margaret Dromey speaking about the Children and Family Relationships Heads of Bill 2014 and the impact it will have on unmarried families if implemented. Margaret was interviewed by Dil Wickremasinghe of Newstalk. Dr. Fergus Ryan, Family Law Lecturer, Maynooth and Colette Brown, columnist Irish Independent were also interviewed.
- Treoir's Submission for discussion at the Seanad - March 2015
See - Article on the Children & Family Relationships Bill by Treoir Council member
Anne Egan in the journal.ie
- Article by Treoir's Chair, Ruth Barrington - 'Unmarried Fathers Should become
automatic guardians of their children under the Bill'
General Scheme of a Children and Family Relationships Bill
See Treoir's Submission on the General Scheme of a Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014 to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice Defence and Equality. Read Submission.
Read Treoir's articles about the proposed changes in family law in the upcoming Child & Family Bill:
* The Journal: 'Radical change on the way for (some) unmarried fathers'
Budget 2015: Widening the Gap Between Rich and Poor
Treoir, The National Information Service for Unmarried Parents, believes not enough has been done in Budget 2015 to ensure that lone parents who are being activated when their youngest child reaches 7 are supported to gain appropriate training to enable them to become job ready. Also the decision to cut earnings disregard for lone parents from the original €146 per week to €75 in 2015 and to €60 by 2016 is contrary to the policy of activation. The new Back to Work Family Dividend of €30 per week (per child) does not compensate for the cut in earnings disregard for lone parents.
Similarly disappointing is the lack of measures tackling the childcare crisis that working parents face but which impacts solo parents disproportionately. Childcare subsidies for solo parents seeking to improve their education or actively seeking work would have helped. Some subsidised schemes exist but the promised Swedish model is a long way off.
The abolition of the One Parent Family Tax Credit in the last budget had a detrimental effect on non-resident parents’ (mainly fathers) ability to pay maintenance for their children and Treoir is extremely disappointed that the tax credit has not been re-instated in this budget, showing that the government, yet again, has failed to recognise the importance of promoting shared parenting.
Treoir questions the wisdom of giving tax relief to higher paid earners at a time when there is very strong evidence that low paid and social welfare recipients, particularly solo parents, are at huge risk of poverty. This can only serve to widen the gap between rich and poor in Ireland.
Treoir welcomes many of the changes proposed, including the increase in Child Benefit, partial reinstatement of the Christmas Bonus, the raising of the threshold for paying USC, income tax relief on water charges and the allocation of €2.2 billion for social housing.
Changes to After school childcare
Changes have been made to the After–school Child Care (ASCC) programme in the Department of Social Protection (DSP). Parents will now pay €3 per day, maximum €15 per week, towards the cost of child care and there will be a free after-school pick-up service available. The ASCC has been expanded to include those on a DSP employment programme. Just be aware that you can only get this help for 52 weeks in total. TREOIR intends to discuss this with the Department and if you have any views please forward them through our ‘contact’ button and/or on ‘facebook’.
Changes have also been made to the Community Employment Childcare programme, which replaces the CE Childcare Education and Training Support (CE CETS). The new programme has been expanded to include parents with children aged up to 13 years of age at primary school.
To find out about eligibility and for further detail of the changes made to both these programmes see here.
Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance
Some One Parent Family recipients will automatically be paid the BTSCFA. If you are one of those who got a letter telling you when and how your allowance is paid then you do not have to do anything. If you are not one of those who got a letter already then you need to apply for the Allowance by filling in application form. As of 2014, this allowance will only be paid in respect of children attending primary or secondary school.
If any of your children are aged 18 or over you must apply for the Allowance for them and give evidence that they are in second-level education. This application must be made even if automatic payments have issued for other children in the family.
See here for further information
Assistant CEO and founder member Margot Doherty has retired after 32 years of exemplary service to Treoir. We wish her a joyous retirement filled with fun and happiness. Pictured at her retirement party with Treoir Chairwoman Dr. Ruth Barrington.
The School and the Family Today
‘Good Practice Guidelines’
The purpose of this new publication is to provide Home School Liaison Teachers & Schools with a best practice approach on policies regarding children living with parents married and unmarried, children of separated parents, same-sex parents, non-biological parents and children in care. Home School Community Liaison Teacher Ann-Maire Waddock, produced this publication with support form the South Inner City HSCLs, Carol Finlay from Dublin City Council, GLEN, the HSE, other community members and with support and guidance from Margot Doherty of Treoir.
Children First Bill 2014
Treoir welcomes the publication of the Children First Bill 2014. There has been a lack of clarity about obligations to report cases of consensual sexual activity between young people under the age of consent. We welcome the fact that this Bill clarifies the position as follows:
A mandated person shall not be required to make a report to the Child and Family Agency where a child aged 15 years or more but less than 17 years is engaged in sexual activity with a person who is not more than 2 years older than the child and where the mandated person knows or believes that there is no material difference in capacity or maturity between the two parties, and where the child has made known his or her view that a report should not be made to the Child and Family Agency and where the mandated person relied upon that view.
Treoir will engage with its members to develop a comprehensive response to the Bill.
Mother and Baby Homes
The treatment of unmarried mothers and their children in Mother and Baby homes, while hugely disturbing, cannot be blamed solely on those running the homes. Institutions provided refuge, albeit in a harsh environment, while families, politicians, the church and society as a whole failed these mothers and their children.
In l976 when Treoir, formerly the Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their Children, was founded, the legal status of children born outside of marriage was “illegitimate” and unmarried fathers did not have any legal recognition except for the purpose of “affiliation and maintenance”.
In the early days of the organisation the Information Service was used extensively by single pregnant women who were desperately in need of accommodation during their pregnancy as they could not remain at home. Often they did not have the means to support themselves in rented accommodation and generally could not cope with the stigma of being single and pregnant or an unmarried mother. Mother and Baby Homes, Family Placement and travelling to England to give birth were the options for these mothers.
For more, read Margaret Dromey's article 'Unmarried Parents - The Story So Far'
Separating parents and their children
Treoir attended the launch on 3rd February 2014 of two informative and useful films for separating parents and their children. The Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the Courts Service have worked together to develop these two short films about key aspects of family law proceedings in the District Court, and possible alternatives to Court, in particular family mediation. Read more.
View films here:
- You are not alone - A short film for young people whose parents are separating or have separated
- Finding your way - A short film for parents who are separating or have separated
Guardianship for Unmarried Fathers
The recent tragic case of the very ill baby boy born in a Dublin maternity hospital highlights the lack of rights afforded to unmarried fathers. As the couple in this case were not married, the father was not a guardian on the birth of the child. Where the parents are not married to each other only the mother is automatically a guardian when the child is born. The father therefore had no right to make any major decisions regarding his baby.
As a result of this case we have had a number of calls from worried unmarried pregnant women. If an unmarried pregnant women is concerned she could make a Will appointing the father, or another appropriate person (for example a grandmother) as a Testamentary Guardian. This person would then have the right to make decisions regarding the welfare of the child in the event of her death. See Guardianship.
Normally you must be 18 years old, or married, in order to make a will. However, a mother under 18 can make a will if it is to appoint a Testamentary Guardian for her child.
For more information see the article written by Margot Doherty, Assistant Chief Executive of Treoir in The Journal.ie.
Removal of One Parent Family Credit is to the detriment of children
OUT OF THE blue, on Budget Day in October 2013, the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, TD., announced that he was removing the One Parent Family Credit (OPFC) and replacing it with the Single Person Child Carer Credit (SPCCC) on foot of a recommendation contained in the Commission on Taxation Report in 2009.
The OPFC was a tax credit of €1,650 per annum that was available to those who were parenting on their own. It brought with it an increase in the Standard Rate Tax Band from €32,800 to €36,800. According to the Revenue, the tax credit resulted in reducing a claimant’s tax liability by €31.73 a week and – where a claimant’s income exceeded €36,800 – the additional rate of the Standard Rate Tax Band was worth a maximum of €16.15 per week. The maximum value of the credit and the additional rate band therefore was €2,490 a year or €47.88 a week. So a significant amount to lose. The following table illustrates the changes:
Annual wage difference in amount of tax paid per week
€13,500 (minimum wage x 30 hours) No change
€20,000 + €13
€30,000 + €10
€40,000 + €48
€60,000 + €47
As stated above the OPFC was available to parents parenting on their own. This meant that where two estranged parents were sharing the parenting of the child, both parents could claim the credit. The requirement from Revenue was that that the child resided with the parent at least one night in the year. Obviously, this criterion was totally inappropriate and the OPFC was in need of reform.
However, rather than reform this essential tax credit Minister Noonan decided, arbitrarily, to completely remove it.
To add insult to injury, the Minister has named the person who receives the new tax credit the Primary Carer (usually the mother) and the other parent the Secondary Carer (usually the father). This terminology has produced several witty but sad images on the Facebook page set up by fathers angered by the change – Irish Fathers for Equality.
We believe it is best for children to grow up with the involvement of both parents in their lives, provided it is safe and practical. Shared parenting is good for children and research shows this clearly. The State should be supporting this, rather than removing an incentive to shared parenting. Read more.
See Revenue for further information.
Launch of See How They Grow “Solo and unmarried-cohabitant parenthood and crisis pregnancy in Ireland” - June 20th 2013
This study, commissioned by Treoir and funded by the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, used the data collected by the Growing Up in Ireland study of 11,134 children, then aged nine months.
The study reveals that married parents and their children have the best outcomes on almost all indicators, followed by unmarried-cohabitants with solo parents seriously disadvantaged across almost all indicators.
Treoir CEO Margaret Dromey with President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin on International Women's Day, March 15th 2013.
CSO 2011: Living Arrangements in Ireland Facts & Figures
The CSO has released more information from Census 2011 showing some interesting statistics in its report. Some facts and figures about unmarried families:
The increase in the number of cohabiting couples all of whose children are under the age of 15 years between 2006 (36.611) and 2011 (49.905).
|The average number of children of cohabiting couples with children as compared with 2.09 the average number of children of married couples with children.|
Figure 14 charts the differences between married and cohabiting couples in terms of the number of children in their families. Over half of cohabiting couples with children were one- child families.
|The percentage of lone mothers who were single compared to married, separated, divorced or widowed|
Figure 17 shows that single women as opposed to married, separated, divorced or widowed made up 44.1 per cent of lone mothers. The number of lone parent families all of whose children are under the age of 15 stood at 89,612 in 2011 of which 83,476 were lone mothers and 6,136 were lone fathers.
Yes for Children
Treoir called today for a yes vote in the forthcoming Children's Referendum.
Arc Adoption, Childminding Ireland, Inclusion Ireland and the Irish Youth Federation also supported the yes vote at the press conference hosted by Senator Jillian van Turnhout.
CSO Vital Statistics Fourth Quarter and Yearly Summary
According to the CSO Vital Statistics 2011 report of the 74,650 births in Ireland in 2011 25,190 were to unmarried parents, 34% of all births. Over half of the births to unmarried parents were to parents at the same address.
Also it is worth noting that there is a significant drop in the number of births to teenagers 1,720 compared to 2,019 in 2010 .
Check out the rest of the report at www.cso.ie.
Unmarried Parents: Numbers on the Rise
Thirty-six percent of all births were outside marriage in the first quarter of 2012, according to the latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) today. This represents a significant increase in the number of births occurring outside marriage rising from 34% in 2011.
In addition, the percentage of births to unmarried parents living at the same address (cohabitants) has risen to 57% of births outside marriage – from 54% in 2011.
In Treoir’s National Specialist Information Centre we continue to be astounded at the number of unmarried parents who are not aware of their rights (or lack of them) in respect of their children. We cannot stress too highly how important it is that unmarried parents be aware of their vulnerable legal situation in relation to their children.
Unmarried parents need to know, for example, that:
- a father’s name on the birth certificate does not give him guardianship rights in respect of his child
- it is easy to get guardianship rights if the mother agrees
- it is good for children to know both parents
- where parents are cohabiting the father does not have any automatic legal rights in respect of his child
- cohabitants have new rights in respect of each other
Treoir's Annual General Meeting
Treoir was delighted with the turnout and the lively discussion from the audience following information presentations made by David Langwallner (Barrister and Dean of Law, Griffith College) and Margaret Martin (Director, Women's Aid).
The topics discussed were The Law Reform Commission’s proposals to provide for automatic joint parental responsibility (guardianship) of both the mother and the father of any child and to introduce compulsory joint birth registration.
Download Treoir Annual Report 2011.
Treoir's Submission on the Children First Bill
Treoir's interest in the Children First Bill 2012 is specifically in relation to consensual, underage sexual activity between teenagers. The difficulty with underage sexual activity between two consenting teenagers is that while it is a criminal offence under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 "it might not be regarded as constituting 'child sexual abuse'.
New Social Welfare Bill: Disaster for Lone Parent Families
She said if “a credible and bankable commitment from the Government on the delivery of such a system of childcare by the time of this year’s budget is not forthcoming the measure will not proceed”.
However, Treoir believes a “commitment” to introduce is not sufficient. We will need evidence that the good, affordable childcare is actually in place before the measures can be considered.
This is indeed good news and in no small way is a result of campaigning by Treoir and many other organisations and individuals. The intensive campaign by OPEN “7 is too young” supported by Barnardos and the National Womens Council was particularly effective.
Treoir wrote to every TD and Senator to urge them to oppose Section 4 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012.
Treoir has written to every TD and Senator to urge them to oppose Section 4 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012. If enacted, this would mean that lone parents whose youngest child is over 7 years would be ineligible for One Parent Family Payment (OFP) from 2014.
OFP recipients will then have to move to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). As JSA is only paid on days not worked at all, this is not suitable for many lone parents who may work part time e.g. each morning when their children are at school.
Why TDs Should Oppose This Section of the Bill:
- In the absence of vital support services such as childcare, training, flexible working hours being in place, this legislation will have a disastrous effect on many OFP families. It just won’t work. The supports must be in place before the age limit is reduced to 7.
- The JSA disregard is based on days worked/not worked.
- There is a critical shortage of job opportunities right now.
- OFP recipients are being singled out to be available for work when their youngest child reaches 7 years, unlike other Social Welfare recipients with dependent children.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education published its report in March 2012 and strongly opposed this change.
We urge TDs and Senators again to oppose Section 4 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012.
Now is not the right time for this legislation.
Check out Treoir's letter in The Irish Examiner urging everyone to lobby their local TD and Senator to oppose Section 4 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012.
Treoir was delighted to be among the organisations invited to attend a reception at Áras an Uachtaráin on St. Patrick's Day. In his speech on the day the President said - "A society scarred by great divisions of power and
wealth is not a society in which the human spirit can flourish"
From left to right - Bella Maher, Brenda Forde, Sabina Higgins, President Michael D. Higgins, Berit Andersen, Beatrice Cantalejo
Treoir meets Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence
Treoir met the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, on 24th February 2012, to discuss the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission on Family Relationships and upcoming family law legislation.
The topics discussed included the legal rights of unmarried fathers, guardianship rights for those acting in loco parentis, compulsory birth registration, legal age to consent to sexual activity, central register for guardianship agreements.
Pictured at the meeting from left to right: Margaret Dromey, CEO Treoir, Alan Shatter T.D., Leonie Lunny, Chairwoman Treoir, Margot Doherty, Assistant CEO Treoir.
Did you know…?
Of the 73,724 births in Ireland in 2010 that 24,860 were to unmarried parents. That's nearly 34%.
Unmarried families are not recognised in the Irish Constitution and they do not possess the same legal rights and obligations as the family based on marriage.
Having an unmarried father’s name on his child’s birth certificate does not give him ANY guardianship rights in respect of his child.
Of the 91,146 who are on One-Parent Family Payment 66,020 are unmarried. That's nearly 73%.
Significant changes have been introduced to the maximum rent limits under the Rent Supplement Scheme.
The reductions, averaging 13%, were introduced on 1st January for new claimants. The new limits will apply to existing claimants when their claims are reviewed or if they move to new accommodation.
Minister Burton flagged in her budget speech that new rent limits would be introduced in 2012 but it was not clear that the changes were imminent.
For further information on the maximum rent levels for each county visit:
Treoir works to promote the rights and best interests of unmarried parents and their children in Ireland.
Treoir met the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, on the 19th of October 2011 to express its concerns about issues affecting unmarried parents.
Pictured at the meeting in Leinster House were Margaret Dromey (CEO, Treoir); Frances Fitzgerald (Minister for Children); Berit Andersen (Vice Chair, Treoir); and Margot Doherty (Assistant CEO, Treoir).
Other Treoir recent submissions include:
Launch of 'Being there for them' New Edition
These are some of the questions that are answered in Being there for them, a guide for grandparents of children whose parents are unmarried.
Produced by Treoir, the National Specialist Information Service for Unmarried Parents, and funded by the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, Being there for them was launched at the Mansion House by Andrew Montague, Lord Mayor of Dublin, on Wednesday 19th October.
Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague, said at the launch:
"Grandparents are national treasures who provide substantial support to parents and grandchildren. But often, when they need information, they don’t know where to turn. There is comprehensive information in Being there for them with helpful hints for grandparents."
Grandparents of children whose parents are unmarried can find themselves in many different situations. They may:
- have their adult children and their grandchildren living with them
- be parents of young parents
- be providing full-time care of their grandchildren
- be grandparents who are not in touch with their grandchildren.
Being there for them provides helpful hints and valuable information to grandparents in all of the above situations, which sometimes can be very challenging.
The launch was part of Parents’ Week 2011.
or LoCall 1890 252 084.
Treoir Cohabitants Campaign
The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 introduced new rights and responsibilities for cohabitants, opposite and same sex, who are living together for 5 years and for 2 years where they have a child.
The Family Support Agency has funded Treoir to run an information campaign around the cohabitants part of the Act. The radio campaign commenced on Tuesday 19th of April and ran for a number of weeks.
The new campaign leaflet 'Cohabitants - new legal rights and obligations for opposite and same sex couples' can be downloaded from our website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to order copies or call 1890 252 084.
Pictured at the launch were Margaret Dromey (CEO, Treoir), Leonie Lunny (Chair, Treoir) and Pat Bennett (CEO, Family Support Agency).
: if your relationship ended either through break-up or death prior to the enactment of this Act, January 2011, these rights and obligations do not apply.