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The Story behind the Irish Parental Equality Legacy Project

A conversation explaining how the “Legacy Project” came about at a meeting back in Nov 2003 and after many years of distraction how it is finally taking shape…..

The vision of the “Legacy Project” is the core objective of this latest reinvention of the Parental Equality site.

The work and ideals of the Parental Equality and supporting organisations are part of the alternative history of Ireland and are still being reinvented and felt throughout Ireland in the homes, courts and on the streets.

The vision of this project is to capture the Legacy in a historical website that will educate and inform not only historians, students. politicals but maybe even individuals that are facing the awful situation of not being allowed to have the equal rights to parent your child/ren.

If you wish to support this project and/or if you have “evidenced based” material which can embellish this project for the benefit of future generations of parents and their children and grandparents then please email


This is a foreward by Liam O'Gogain from 2002. In reality how much has changed for Fathers since?

As chairman of Parental Equality I welcome you to our  website.

Parental Equality is celebrating 10 years of work in support of shared parenting issues since being founded in 1992. In those ten years there have been enormous changes in Ireland.

We now have legalized Divorce, some 40% of births outside of marriage, a substantive increase in family Law activity (20% of all civil legal actions) and a huge industry of professionals who eke their living from the fallout of family separations.

Technology has been a central driver in change. Mobile phones are now standard. Being on the web as you are now is increasingly the norm. The Freedom of Information Act now allows a citizen to have access to information which was at best a black art in the past.

The landscape against which support groups such as PE operates is also greatly changed. Whereas at one time voluntary groups were all well meaning unpaid caring people who did their best with very little funds and no one expected miracles form such groups, there has been a huge shift towards a Professional Voluntary sector with over 70% of workers in this area being paid. Unfortunately funding for these salaries (often from taxpayer’s monies) is concentrated on those groups within the Golden Circle of political correctness This process has raised the expectation of callers to the various services. Callers expect helplines to be 24/7/365 and they expect a range of supports without having to contribute for these supports.  Parental Equality is largely unfunded. We get some small grant aid which could not even support the maintenance of this website. For most of our work we rely of the incredible level of commitment of a small band of doo-ers who have risen above their own personal problems and reached out to help others. On your behalf I thank all the PE volunteers and wish for them and their children good health and happiness.


Parental Equality have been at the leading edge of promoting change in the family law system and in challenging the culture of “Sole custody to the Mother, with subservient and controlled access to the Father”. This discriminatory approach to parental roles has led to a colony of single parent families, led almost exclusively by mothers, where children have very little experience of enriched relationships with their loving fathers. The Irish State has now become substitute father to countless thousands of children, with spiraling costs to the exchequer (and thus the taxpayer, due to single parent welfare payments), as a direct result of a policy of isolating and demonising men in general and in driving fathers away from their children in the event of relationship breakdown.

The sobering fact is that within 2 years of relationship breakdown, some 50% of fathers lose contact with their children. At the same time the level of male depression, male suicide and societal violence, infanticide etc., is on the increase.

It seems apparent to me that the government Family Social Policy of the last two decades has as one would say “added to the problems rather than contributing to a solution”

Parental Equality believe that when relationships break down the default solution should be one of shared Joint custody with equal social, tax, educational and welfare  supports for both mothers and fathers. PE have living working models to prove that a policy of true equality which treats mothers and fathers with Parity of Esteem as parents and which supports shared parenting as a core value creates a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN outcome:-


  1. Children Win by retaining and developing deeply loving and engaged relationships with both their mothers and fathers and their respective extended families. This removes the longer term trauma of future reconnections with their father and his families. It also removes the need for the children to take sides and provides greater security for their upbringing.


  1. Mothers win by not being left as sole custodians and effective sole guardians of their children’s welfare.  Mothers sharing parenting experience the same opportunity for personal development and for career opportunity as the fathers of the children. The level of stress is reduced for mothers by not having to pursue fathers for maintenance, which mothers often say re-enlivens the bitterness and arguments and prevents them from moving on.  The culturally enforced martyrdom of single motherhood and the stigmas which are sometimes attached with sole parenting are removed. In this environment, if single mothers meet other single fathers it is likely that those fathers have themselves an involved commitment with their own children and therefore any new relationship is more likely to be based on an equality of expectation and resources.


  1. Fathers win by having parity of esteem as parents. Instead of trying to deal with the emotional trauma of expecting to be treated as second class parents, subservient to the whims of the mother and often repositioning their expectation of themselves and their engagement with their children, fathers can plan to rebalance their career and family life commitments for the benefit of themselves and their children. By having equal access to state child benefits, equal and positive support from the statutory services in dealing with the whole range of parenting issues, fathers will experience a release of loving energy which recognition of their role will bring and this energy will be positively available for their children.


  1. Grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins will all win. No longer the embarrassment of children and their grandparents and cousins etc, when they meet in the street, in school etc. The present discrimination in favour of maternal grandparents and extended families, while isolating the fathers side of the family will no longer be necessary. Grandparents who are generally completely innocent and often unaware of the parents conflicts and who end up cut off as result of family separations can now be assured of secure long term relationships with their grandchildren. In this space grandparents can provide the wisdom and ease of age, the vital linkages through the family genealogy, and a comforting ear for the problems of growing children.


  1. Society wins by the maintenance of the familial and communal bonds which shared parenting brings with it. Families are best able to impart communal values and to maintain a sense of good behaviour and to look out for their own, instead of abdicating to the state the day to day responsibility for their children. With a reduction in the exchequer spending on maintenance, the consequent reduction in spending on adversarial court hearings and costs of social workers reports etc, the taxpayers monies can then be directed into productive family support, which can benefit children and their parents.


In conclusion, The philosophy of building a shared parenting culture is about improving the Quality of Life for all of  our citizens. There are those who, I believe, because of their baggage or blindness, or because of the toxic incentives which encourage them to stoke the male-female divide in order to increase their own financial gain from the hurt of others, will continue to say that Joint Custody and shared parenting cannot work. Because of the huge investment in the present model of sole custody-feckless father-martyr-mother metaphor, these people do not want change even if it’s for the better. Using vast sums of taxpayers funds they carry out and use research results not as a learning and discovery tool but rather as a way of buttressing their prior prejudices. To those who say that shared parenting cannot work I say “Get out of the way of those who are actually doing it successfully”.


If you would like to be involved in building solutions for our children’s futures, then I encourage you to become involved with us in Parental Equality. Whatever you skills there is something you can contribute and remember:- PE needs you and can only develop with your participation. So let’s hear from you.



Liam O Gogain

(Chairman PE)

11th June 2002

Parental Alienation Petition


PLEASE Help to STOP Parental Alienation NOW by signing this Petition

Ireland at present does not recognise Parental Alienation however it is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO). It undermines the core principles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by not allowing a child positive access to both parents.

This is a petition from Parental Equality & Forever Fathers to the Minister of Health & Dail Eireann to introduce and support legislation that recognises Parental Alienation* as a mental disorder and to rollout the legislation and services that are required to prevent and stop Parenatal Alienation in Ireland.

This is necessary so that:

Parental Alienation is recognised by courts, HSE and Tusla and other government and community bodies and procedures created to identify it and to intervene to stop damage to the child / children involved.

That it becomes an offence to deliberately perpetuate Parental Alieantion as it is a very harmful form of emotional child abuse.

That services are established to professionally support and to positvely intervene in cases where Parental Alienation is recognised by the appropriate trained professionals.

Evidence includes:

*The World Health Organisation has included “Parental Alienation” in its new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which was released on June 18th 2018.

The index entry of parental alienation and estrangement means that the ICD-11 recognises the reality of Parental Alienation for Irish children and families. Parental Alienation is characterised as occurring “when a child/ren allies himselfor herself strongly with the care giver (the alienating or aligned party) and rejects the relationship with the other parent or parents (the targeted or alienated parent or parents) without legitimate justification despite a previous warm and loving relationship. The primary behavioural symptom is the child’s refusal to have contact with the targeted parent or their extended family”

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) are currently reviewing their position on Parental Alienation. The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) in the UK have recently published high conflict pathways for Parental Alienation and the Child Assessment Framework to help support their practitioners in assessing the harmful impact of the many factors which can cause children harm including Parental Alienation.

As far back as 1997 the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists published practice parameters for Parental Alienation and the DSM 5 (2013) have acknowledged Parental Alienation as a relational phenomenon and so the spirit of Parental Alienation is listed as child affected by parental relationship distress among others on pages 716, 718 and 719!!





Why is this important?
Simply because it harms children, mothers, fathers and extended members of families. It is a Human Rights issue that needs to be prevented.

Family Breakdown
Divorce and Separation are common place throughout Ireland (232,000 in 2016). In many cases Parental Alienation results when there is relationship conflict as a result of high levels of conflict from either separation or divorce.

What is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation (PA) is where a child becomes enmeshed with one parent (preferred parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (targeted parent) without legitimate justification. This is a serious mental health condition that affects hundreds of thousands of families around the world.

How does Parental Alienation happen?
The alienating parent employs behavioural tactics to negatively influence their children’s beliefs about the other parent such as ‘brainwashing’ and ‘programming’. This usually causes the child to fear and dislike the once loved parent as a conflict of loyalty develops for the child between their parents resulting in contact refusal with the targeted parent.

What has Changed?
The recent recognition of Parental Alienation by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases (DSM) and in 2019 it will be entered into the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) means that the HSE, TUSLA and the Courts won must now recognise this form of emotional abuse and conditioning. A form of child abuse that not only alienates the children involved from the other partner but can negatively affect their future relationships, emotional well being and ability to thrive as individuals in their own right. It also creates an affliction of grief and loss on the other partner who may seldom or ever recieve access to their children who may never ever want to see their non custodial mum or dad ever again.

Why is it important to me?
As a Divorced Father I have luckily never experienced Parental Alienation myself but I have seen its effects on the many parents who have experienced Parental Alienation over the past 15 years. I believe not only is it morally wrong but it is proven that it causes significant harm to the children as it is a form of emotional abuse and must be recognised so that it can be stopped and intervention can happen.

Sadly up to now as it is not recognised in Ireland mums, dads, etc. who have experienced Parental Alienation have been powerless to do anything positive despite the seriousness of the situation. Indeed many are grieving "the loss" of their once loving and living child or grand child.

Dail Eireann
A previous answer by Minister of Health to written answers (Question to Health)

"Parental Alienation Syndrome is not included as a diagnostic entity in the International Classification of Diseases ( ICD ) or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM ) and as such it would be inappropriate for me to comment on its authenticity."


There is a lot more information on the Internet the following is a selection of it

Parental Alienation Syndrome

O’Sullivan. B (2013) Irish Journal of Family Law 16 (1) pp. 20 - 23

1 The Alienated Child

“I wanted one life, you wanted another, we couldn’t have our cake, so we ate each


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