The calls follow the tragic case of a catastrophically brain-damaged baby whose mother died shortly after giving birth and whose father had to seek court intervention to allow him give consent for the withdrawal of his child’s life support.

Eamonn Quinn of the Unmarried and Separated Parents of Ireland said law reform to grant automatic guardianship rights to unmarried fathers from their baby’s birth is long overdue.

“If this case had happened ‘up the road’ in Belfast, the father would have automatically been the person making the decisions about his baby without having a court case added to his ordeal.”

Treoir, the National Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their Children, noted Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s statement last November that he intended legislating to allow automatic guardianship for cohabiting couples but said this could take some time.

Assistant chief executive Margot Doherty said: “Change is coming, although we have yet to see any draft legislation and it won’t suit everyone as parents will have to prove they have been living together and it won’t change the situation for parents living apart. There is an argument for automatic rights for all fathers on the birth of a baby but there are issues around domestic violence, incest and rape. It’s a difficult issue to make one simple rule for.”

Read the full article via Call for law to ensure rights of single dads | Irish Examiner.