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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

News Media

A father and child reunion

Fathers' Family Time is a joint project, the work of the local Methodist church and an organisation called Parental Equality (PE). Non denominational and open to all, it was devised as an option for the "McDonalds Dad" the separated father you see in your local playground or hamburger bar on a Saturday or Sunday, pushing the swings, buying the burgers, enjoying what is possibly the only few hours he will spend with his children all week.

“In Camera Rule”

Research Consultant, for Parental Equality, Dr. Bob McCormack, in September 2000, on The “IN CAMERA RULE” in Irish Family Law Cases.

Daddy dearest put to the test


With more children being born as a result of casual relationships, it's no wonder paternity tests the only way of determining a child's parentage are on the rise. Gemma O'Doherty reports

Parental Equality News



As acceptance of the concept of ‘Parental Equality’ increases in the general public, and even within the professions and the Judiciary, there is growing evidence that more insidious methods of peripheralising one parent (usually the father) are being employed by those "possessive" parents who feel that they ‘own’ children. An ever-increasing number of those who come to Parental Equality for help say that their children are being turned against them. They, and their children, are victims of Parental Alienation. Unfortunately, too many people see it as a legitimate and acceptable tactic in the ugly battlefield call the Family Law system. The long term damaging effects it can have on children are impossible to calculate. The unspeakable grief caused to the absent parent is traumatic and can, in many cases, be fatal. The methods used to alienate the absent parent are many and varied, but usually are subtle and effective. Because of this it is a very difficult problem to deal with. Firstly, because it is usually done very subtly it is very difficult to prove. Even if it is proven the Courts can find themselves almost powerless to deal with it. In America some psychiatrists advocate removal of the child from the alienating parent and placement with the absent parent. Contact with the alienating parent is then slowly re-established and closely monitored to ensure the damaging behaviour does not recur. It is unlikely that such measures will be adopted in this country in the near future as the vast majority of offenders are mothers.


Now set up in Drogheda, the first meeting was held in the Community Services Centre, where a 6-week course will be held starting on Thursday, March 28.The course covers six topics one each week, tackling the question Why shared parenting?, life after separati

COPING with a marital separation

Falsely Accused Families Seek Inquiry

Irish Examiner, 6th February 2002, by Evelyn Ring


NOTHING short of a full public statutory inquiry will satisfy the families falsely accused of child sex abuse who insist the State must be held accountable. Eddie Hernon of VOCAL Ireland said people like him had their lives destroyed by Dr Moira Woods in the 1980s when she headed the Sexual Assault Trauma Unit in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.


Parental Equality

Parental Equality is a national, not-for-profit organisation of women and men that seeks to:

  • Support the importance of both mother and father as parents, guardians, carers and custodians of their children and to have the state reflect this position in every aspect of parental and child legislation and its practice.

70,000 fathers failing to pay maintenance towards their children

David Quinn

Almost 80,000 women receive the one-parent family payment. But in each case the absent father is required to pay towards the upkeep of the child - if he can afford it. Yet only 9,600 are currently doing so . . .

A MASSIVE 70,000 dads are failing to pay maintenance towards their children.

In doing so they are flouting the law and strict social welfare rules.

Almost 80,000 people, overwhelmingly women, are in receipt of the one parent family payment.



An Evaluation of The Da Project
Part of the Springboard Initiative
at Barnardos Cherry Orchard Family Support Project,
Ballyfermot, Dublin.
Undertaken by Working With Men
on behalf of Barnardos.

July 2006


Landmark Ruling on Fathers’ Rights – The “G” Case

Campaigners have welcomed the outcome of a landmark High Court case on the rights of unmarried fathers.

Today the court ruled that the rights of an unmarried father were breached after his former partner removed his children from Ireland without his consent.

The ruling has significant implications for unmarried parents in the future and has already sparked a call for a constitutional referendum.


Marriage Equality, Relationship Recognition and Non-Discrimination: Securing Equality and Rights?

Parental equality - current legislative attempts to equalise parental rights under Irish law

University College Cork

About Us

Parental Equality is celebrating nearly a generation of work in support of shared parenting issues. The generation since 1992 has seen enormous changes in Ireland:

  • Divorce has been legalised,
  • Some 40% of births are outside marriage,
  • Family law activity has increased substantively to where it now accounts for 20% of all civil legal actions,
  • A huge industry of professionals now earn their living from the fallout of family breakdown.

The joys of parental equality

#SOSManDown: New campaign launched to tackle male health crisis

The campaign group for fathers’ rights in Ireland has launched a new offensive, calling for an urgent package of measures to reduce casualties from the higher rates of suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse suffered by men across each nation.

In Ireland, four in five suicides are men, with those aged 45 – 54 most at risk.