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Children & Family relationships bill a step too far

By Susan Gately - 10 April, 2015

Mothers and Fathers Matter group held a lunchtime gathering outside the Dail as the Children and Family relationships (CFR) Bill was presented to Cabinet. Pic shows Chloe McKenna from Crossmaglen and Michael Malone from Co Meath. Pic John Mc Elroy.

The Children and Family Relationships Bill, very soon to be signed into law, goes way beyond what is needed to address anomalies in family law according to the Chairman of Mothers and Fathers Matter.

Professor Ray Kinsella said there was a need to update certain rights, for example to strengthen the rights of fathers involved in relationships, but “this legislation goes way beyond that and explicitly removes the connection between children and their natural parents”.

The former Professor of Banking and Finance at the Smurfit Business School, said the law should address anomalies in a sensitive way, but it was “equally important that the law does not give expression to a situation which is counter to the rights and needs of children.”

“In this case, what we are looking at is a deconstruction of the fundamental link between a child and its genetic or biological parents,” he told CatholicIreland.net.

He said the Children and Family Relationships Bill was also “deeply exploitative of women because it envisages a situation where you might have three mothers, with all of the tension that that creates for children”.

“In effect it [the bill] commodifies children. I think when you are affecting law, you must do so in  a sensitive way and recognise that all relationships contain a loving component but not all relationships are equivalent. They are not all the same and what we want for our children is the best and that is [keeping] the link with their genetic, biological parents where that is at all possible. That is what the law should be about.”

Professor Kinsella praised adoptive parents who he said “played an incredibly important role” in their childrens’ lives, and “one that demands great sacrifice”.

Economist Prof Ray Kinsella, Chairman 'Mothers and Fathers Matter'

Economist Prof Ray Kinsella, lecturer Smurfit Business School

Adoptive parents are extraordinary, he said adding, “And I think they would say it is always better for the child, where possible, to be with their own [birth] mother and father.”

But there was all the difference in the world between adoptive parents who became parents arising from a need to the situation where “you normalise the separation of the child from their natural parents”.

Professor Kinsella said that listening to the stories of children who are donor conceived shows how the process causes “a deep existential crisis” giving rise to the question ‘Who am I? Who is my father? Who are my sibilings? Will I ever know them?'”

“It is contrary to common sense, contrary to nature that you do not know who your family are and that in effect a child, who is always a gift, becomes a commodity. That cannot be right.”

The Children and Family Relationships Bill has passed all stages in the Dáil and just requires signature by the President to become law.

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