April 2016

April 2016

Treoir celebrates 40 years! –  watch this space

Retirement of Margaret Dromey, CEO of Treoir

Senator Jillian van Turnhout and CEO Margaret Dromey

It was a bittersweet occasion in the Treoir office recently when we said goodbye to our CEO, Margaret Dromey, who is retiring after many years of sterling service to Treoir.  Margaret’s career in Treoir spanned almost 40 years, from the early days in the late 1970s when the stigma of unmarried parenthood was huge to the present when so much has been achieved to improve the status of unmarried families in Irish society.

In a tribute to Margaret the Chair, Dr. Ruth Barrington, referred to some of the significant milestones to which Treoir, with Margaret at the helm, contributed including:

  • The Status of Children Act 1987 which abolished the concept of illegitimacy and established the right of all children to be maintained by both parents
  • The Children Act 1997 which made it possible for an unmarried father to become a guardian without going to court and gave grandparents ‘leave to apply’ for permission to have access to their grandchildren
  • Civil Registration and Adoption legislation with particular reference to a child’s right to identity and more recently the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 which introduced very significant rights for unmarried parents and children. In particular it granted automatic rights to unmarried dads who cohabit with the mother of their child for a year and facilitated other unmarried dads to become joint guardians at the point of birth registration, by agreement with the mother.
  • The organization, in conjunction with the Medico-Social Research Board, undertook a national study of unmarried mothers in Ireland “Mothers Alone?” and Treoir was very instrumental in the initiation of the national longitudinal study of children in Ireland “Growing Up in Ireland”.

Describing some of Margaret’s special qualities Ruth said she epitomised the values of Treoir: integrity, respect, empathy, professionalism, flexibility and inclusion.  She spoke of her sense of fairness, her passion and determination and her optimism, which was reflected in her positive outlook, her ‘can do’ attitude and her confidence in the future.

Warm tributes were paid to Margaret by former Chairwoman and honorary life member of Treoir, Gemma Rowley, by her loyal friend and former work colleague of many, many years, Margot Doherty and finally by Brenda Forde, a current long standing member of staff.

In the year that Treoir celebrates its fortieth anniversary, the year when we will be marking its many achievements and when we hope to show how ‘Treoir made a difference’, there is no doubt that Margaret Dromey made an enormous difference to the lives of unmarried parents and she leaves behind a legacy of which she can be justly proud.


Treoir welcomes a new CEO

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Mr. Greg Straton as the new CEO of Treoir. Greg joins us from the Spiritan Asylum Services Initiative (SPIRASI ) where he worked for 12 years, 5 as Executive Director.  During that time Greg was a member of the state appointed Working Group to advise on Improvements to the International Protection Process, including Direct Provision.  He has a proven track record in advancing human rights and social justice.

Greg brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the post and is very well equipped to advance the mission of Treoir, to meet the challenges ahead and to avail of opportunities to benefit the organisation.

The council and staff of Treoir extend a very warm welcome to Greg.


Important New Family Legislation

Certain sections of The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 were commenced on 18th January 2016.  This new legislation will directly affect many of our users.  All the relevant sections of our website have been updated The following are some of the changes that have been commenced:

  • an unmarried father who is cohabiting with the mother of his child for at least one year, 3 months of which are post the birth of the child, will automatically have guardianship rights in respect of his child.  This is not retrospective: only cohabitation after the commencement date (18/1/2016) will be taken into account.  See fathers section
  • step-parents, grandparents and those who have acted in loco parentis may be eligible to apply for guardianship.  See ‘guardianship’ section
  • the process whereby grandparents can apply for access to their grandchildren has been simplified.  See ‘grandparents’ section
  • enforcement procedures have been put in place where someone is in breach of a court order.  See ‘Access and Custody of Children
  • a non-parent cohabitant may be obliged to pay maintenance in respect of a child he/she has been caring for.  See ‘maintenance’ section

Treoir is very disappointed that the section in the Act that gives authority to Birth Registrars to provide and witness Statutory Declartion Forms for Joint Guardianship (S.I. No. 5 1998) has not yet commenced.  Treoir was very effective in influencing the inclusion of this piece of legislation in the Act.  When implemented, not only will unmarried parents be provided with this service but this will ensure that unmarried parents are informed about their legal status at the point of registering the birth of their child.  It is a commonly held belief that where a father has his name on his child’s birth certificate he has automatic legal rights in respect of his child.  This is not so.

Treoir campaigned strongly for the inclusion in the legislation of a Central Register of Guardianship Agreements (S.I. No. 5 of 1998).  Treoir considers it in the best interests of unmarried parents and their children to have these Declarations, which contain evidence of very significant legal rights and responsibilities in relation to children, recorded and was very concerned that it was not addressed in the legislation.  However, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD in first introducing the legislation to Seanad Eireann said,  “some organisations have also raised the issue of a central register for statutory declarations. To that end, I have announced my intention to develop a pilot project to establish a voluntary repository into which non-marital parents can deposit copies of statutory declarations. The lessons from the pilot project will inform whether or not to proceed with the establishment of a national repository”.  Treoir is determined to ensure that this commitment is met and will continue to press for the initiation of the Central Register when a new government is in place.

Treoir’s information leaflets have been updated with the new legislation and are now available to download from our website (download above).  All Treoir publications can be ordered from info@treoir.ie.

We await commencement of further sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.  Follow Treoir on Facebook and see our website, www.treoir.ie, for regular updates.

If you are unclear about any matter please contact an information officer on 01-6700120.

See Treoir’s Press Release 


Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation
A Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and a representative sample of County Homes has been established.  The Commission would like to hear from anyone who was resident in or who worked in any of the Mother and Baby Homes or County Homes that are the subject of the investigation.

The Commission would also like to hear from people who have personal knowledge about the homes, for example, family members of residents, regular visitors or those who supplied services to the homes.  Written submissions are welcome and the Confidential Committee will also meet in person with a number of former residents, employees and others with relevant information to hear their experiences.

Confidential Freephone 1800 80-66-88 (from outside of the Republic of Ireland: 00 353 1 6445088).  The opening hours for the confidential phone line are Monday to Friday (excluding Irish Bank Holidays) 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm.

Treoir will make a submission in due course.

We would encourage those who have a story to tell or observations to make to contact the Commission, see www.mbhcoi.ie


CSO Vital Statistics – Quarter 3 2015
There were 17,128 births registered in quarter 3 2015.  Of these 6,258 were registerd as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.7% of all births in this quarter.  60% of births registerd as outside marriage/civil partnership were registred by parents giving the same address (cohabiting parents).  The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was in Limerick City at 55.4% and the lowest was in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown with 23.7%.  In the same quarter in 2014, there were 6,239 birth registered as outside marriage/civil partnership accounting for 36.3% of all births.

4.6%  of births registered as outside marriage in quarter 3 2015 were registered by mothers under the age of 20.  The average age of first time mothers outside marriage/civil partnership was 28.0 while the average age of all mothers outside marriage/civil partnership was 29.6 years.  In the same quarter in 2014, the average age of mothers having their first baby outside marriage/civil partnership was also 28.0 years while it was 29.5 years for all mothers for births registered outside of marriage/civil partnership.


Cura services
Cura which provides crisis or unplanned pregnancy support and counselling, is to close some of its centres, ie in Kilkenny, Tralee, Ennis, Thurles, Limerick, Athlone, and Wexford.   All services will be delivered through four main centres, in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford and there will be outreach centres in the Louth-Monaghan area, Sligo and Tallaght.

This change has come about due to increased online demand for Cura services.  A 2015 review found that website visits grew by 150 per cent in two years, from 10,563 in 2013 to 26,342 in 2015. By contrast, between 2011 and 2015 there was a 25 per cent drop in face-to-face client contacts, from 848 to 622.


Community Law & Mediation
As part of its series of Free Know Your Rights Talks, the Community Law & Mediation Service, Dublin are hosting a talk on ‘The Importance of Making a Will’.  This talk will take place on the 6th of May.  For more information call 01-8477804.


Supported Accommodation Directory
The HSE Sexual health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme has updated the supported accommodation directory.  This is a directory for pregnant young women or lone mothers who may need temporary accommodation.
See here http://www.crisispregnancy.ie/publication/resources-for-service-providers/


Children First Act  –  an update!
While the Children First Act has been passed only section 28 which relates to corporal punishment has been commenced, as of the 11th December 2015.  The  result of this change in legislation means that a person who administers corporal punishment to a child will no longer be able to rely on the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ in the courts.  The other main provisions of the Act are yet to commence, such as
-  Duties on mandated persons that are obliged under the Act to report Child  â€¨   Protection and Welfare Concerns to TUSLA
-  Establishing the ‘Inter-Departmental Implementation Group’
-  Developing child safeguarding statements

The responsibilities and principles outlined in “Children First, National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children” 2011 and any additional guidance issued by the Minister continues to apply in relation to the safeguarding of children.  These guidelines are currently being revised and updated to reflect the legislation.  This is to ensure that the Guidance will continue as a primary reference for all citizens to report concerns.

The full text of the Children First Act 2015 is avilable here and a background to the Act can be found at www.dcya.gov.ie.


The Department of Social Protection:  Interpretive and Translation Services

The Department’s Customer Charter and Action Plan 2013 – 2015 among other issues, sets out specific commitments relating to the provision of interpretive and translation services and the provision of information in alternative formats such as Braille or Audio. 

The following services are provided to customers where required:

  • A translation service for documents required in relation to a claim.
  • A language interpretive service provided by 3-way phone conversation.
  • A face to face service, where an accredited language interpreter attends in person, to facilitate customer/staff interaction.
  • A Sign Language Interpreter to facilitate customer/staff interaction.
  • Written information or application forms in Braille, Audio or Large Print.

For customers requiring any of the services outlined above, contact your nearest Intreo Centre, Local or Branch Office or the office dealing with your claim.