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(Ireland) Fathers once more the whipping boys of unfair system

There can be no moral obligation on single fathers until they are extended rights that honour and underpin their relationships with their children. ... A society that makes it almost impossible for men to stay in the lives of their children has no right t

John Waters said
There can be no moral obligation on single fathers until they are extended rights that honour and underpin their relationships with their children. … A society that makes it almost impossible for men to stay in the lives of their children has no right to judge those who choose footlooseness and alienation rather than insanity and despair.
John Waters said
In perhaps a majority of cases, fathers either illegally cohabit with the mother or make under-the-table payments to the mother as, in effect, ransom payments to ensure they can continue having covert relationships with their own children.
John Waters said
Dempsey [St Vincent de Paul Society] has proposed, in effect, a tax on fertilisation. This is how many of the more "progressive" voices and agencies have come to see fatherhood, but it is a little surprising to hear it from a representative of a Christian organisation. Is it really part of the Christian proposal that adult males be reduced to the existential status of ATMs?
John Waters said
For a generation, the Irish State has been usurping the position of fathers by offering inducements to mothers to rear children alone. By asserting that she is rearing a child without the assistance of the other parent, a mother qualifies for an array of benefits and allowances.

Fathers once more the whipping boys of unfair system

Irish Times
2 January 2009

Fathers once more the whipping boys of unfair system
By John Waters

Recent finger-pointing at absent fathers ignores a society that deprives men of their rights as parents, writes John Waters

This Christmas, we were again treated to a front-page attack on fathers, this time from a senior member of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP). "State must make absent fathers pay" roared the lead headline in a national newspaper over a report of remarks by the SVP's southern regional president, Brendan Dempsey.

Mothers are being left on their own to bring up children, while fathers shirk their responsibilities, said Dempsey. The SVP observes the consequences of this in the financial and emotional difficulties of single mothers left to fend on their own.

"There is a great need for children to have both parents, but it is not happening. There is a great want in these children."

It is true that many children are being damaged by virtue of being raised without fathers. Although many dubious agents try to put it about that such children do just as well as others, anyone with any sense or life experience knows that what Dempsey says in this context is correct.

But then he moved to his solution: "The father needs to at least make a financial contribution. If you look at the US, a payment is automatically deducted from a father's pay packet for maintenance from the day the child is born until they are 18."

This is true, too. In one quite recent case in California, a 16-year-old boy was ordered to pay maintenance to the 30-year-old woman who had become pregnant as a result of raping him.

There is, of course, a deeper truth here, and the interesting thing is that Dempsey is perfectly aware of it. "Cohabiting couples lose out on benefits so this can have the effect of discouraging the father," he observed. "There is no incentive for him to stay." This is one way of putting it. Another would be to say that there is no incentive for a mother not to banish a father from the presence of his child.

For a generation, the Irish State has been usurping the position of fathers by offering inducements to mothers to rear children alone. By asserting that she is rearing a child without the assistance of the other parent, a mother qualifies for an array of benefits and allowances.

A single father has no automatic rights to his child. To obtain the minimum legal status, he needs the permission of the mother, a court or both. Fathers who seek a formal involvement in the lives of their children are brutalised and terrorised by a barbaric family law system. Many who hope to muddle along on an informal basis are reduced to the emotional condition of yo-yos by mothers confident the system will back their every whim and caprice.

To compete with the State and remain formally part of his own family, a single father needs to be earning at least twice the average industrial wage.

In perhaps a majority of cases, fathers either illegally cohabit with the mother or make under-the-table payments to the mother as, in effect, ransom payments to ensure they can continue having covert relationships with their own children.

Implicitly acknowledging these truths, the late Samus Brennan, when minister for family affairs some years ago, spoke about the possibility of replacing the present one-parent family payment with a parental allowance for low-income families with young children. This, he said, would remove the incentive for single parents to live separately. Nothing has come of this proposal.

I shall not patronise Brendan Dempsey by saying that he means well. But what he proposes would not lead to the creation of the more just and caring nation to which the SVP aspires. In fact, if he were to succeed in this present initiative, Dempsey would do harm that would outweigh everything achieved by the SVP in the 175 years of its existence.

And it would take very little to persuade the present desperate and incompetent Government to turn the brutish and moronic instruments of State against a generation of young men guilty only of having been born into a time of unparalleled hostility towards adult males.

There can be no moral obligation on single fathers until they are extended rights that honour and underpin their relationships with their children.

Dempsey has proposed, in effect, a tax on fertilisation. This is how many of the more "progressive" voices and agencies have come to see fatherhood, but it is a little surprising to hear it from a representative of a Christian organisation. Is it really part of the Christian proposal that adult males be reduced to the existential status of ATMs?

I do not suggest that Irish men never walk away from their children. But even those who do so cannot be said to have made free choices: to some extent, they follow a pattern dictated less by individual conscience than cultural conditioning. A society that honoured fatherhood would not have this problem.

A society that makes it almost impossible for men to stay in the lives of their children has no right to judge those who choose footlooseness and alienation rather than insanity and despair.


State must make absent fathers pay, says SVP

Irish Examiner
27 December 2008

State must make absent fathers pay, says SVPState must make absent fathers pay, says SVP
By Jennifer Hough

Children of single mothers will face huge problems due to the absence in their lives of father figures, discouraged by the State from taking responsibility for them.

The warning came from the southern regional president of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), Brendan Dempsey (pictured). The growing culture of mothers being left on their own and many fathers shirking responsibility for children must be tackled, he said.

Mr Dempsey said the charity had observed the increasing difficulties single mothers face, financially and emotionally. Nine out of 10 homes visited by SVP on one housing estate in Cork, were run by single mothers.

Mr Dempsey said the effects on children were far-reaching. He urged the Government to put a system in place whereby fathers had to take responsibility of some kind.

The majority of psychological assessments for children which the SVP paid for, because the State would not, were for children from broken homes, he said.

There is a great need for children to have both parents, but it is not happening, there is a great want in these children, said Mr Dempsey.

I have the greatest admiration for these women who scrimp and save to give their children the best, he said. If you calculate what they get, minus all expenses, they have about 80 to 100 a week of disposable income left for food, clothes and entertainment. It is not a lot.

Mr Dempsey maintains that growing numbers of single mothers were facing evictions because they could not keep up with rent.

The father needs to at least make a financial contribution. If you look at the US, a payment is automatically deducted from a fathers pay packet for maintenance from the day the child is born until they are 18, he said.

Our state system is set up very badly, he said,

Cohabiting couples lose out on benefits so this can have the effect of discouraging the father - there is no incentive for him to stay.

Mr Dempsey recalled going into a house and a tiny boy asking him: Will you be my Daddy?

I am often asked are you my Daddy. That to me says there is a want, he said.

A study of young single mothers in two communities in 2001, conducted by University College Dublin, bears out the SVP claims.

It found that while the majority of the women received emotional support from the fathers of their children during pregnancy and immediately after the birth, this contact falls away, with 40% of the women surveyed having no contact with the father of the child.

According to the researchers, the realisation that the responsibility is for the long term has a serious impact on the lives of women who become unmarried mothers as teenagers.

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