News and Events
UCC FLAC Host Topical Event on 'Modern Families- The Right to be Recognised'
On Wednesday 20th October 2021, campaigner Ranae von Meding and her wife attended a Dublin District Court and after five years of campaigns and legal challenges, became a legal family. The previous evening, UCC Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) had the pleasure of hosting both Ranae and Professor Conor O’Mahony, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, for an event on the legal position of children born through assisted human reproduction and surrogacy.
The event named ‘Modern Families- The Right to be Recognised’, attracted an audience of over 70 both on campus and on the livestream, including students, practitioners and many who themselves have been left in ‘legal limbo’ where they or their partner are not a legally recognised parent to their child due to their sex or means of their child’s conception. David Giles, Chairperson of UCC FLAC sat down with both to hear of their lived experience and legal expertise respectively.
Von Meding founded ‘Equality for Children’ in 2019 when a group of LGBTQ+ parents came together to fight for equality for their children and campaign for legislative change. The relevant legislation, the Children and Families Relationship Act 2015 only served to benefit a small number of children whose circumstances and methods of conception fell within a narrow criteria. As a family unit, they were told that they did not fall within these parameters- the impacts of Audrey’s status as a ‘legal stranger’ had many day-to-day implications which Ranae spoke to on the evening.
In light of the lobbying of ‘Equality for Children’, the Government commissioned Conor O’Mahony, who also is a Professor of Law at UCC, to explore the area and return with recommendations for change. Speaking on the topic, Professor O’Mahony commented:
In spite of reforms in 2015, Irish law has still not fully caught up with modern family life and the use of assisted human reproduction and surrogacy. The gaps in the law have significant implications for children’s rights, including the best interests of the child, the right to family life and the right to identity. My 2020 report makes a range of recommendations for how Irish family law could address these issues in a manner compatible with our obligations under international children’s rights law.
The report was discussed in detail at the event, particularly the ‘legal void’ that is Surrogacy law in Ireland in the absence of any legislation in the area. The 2014 Supreme Court judgment in MR v An t-Ard Chlaraitheoir held that this area was broadly a topic for the Oireachtas rather than the Courts seven years ago. There is much anticipation to see whether Professor O’Mahony’s recommendations will be followed by the Oireachtas and it is hoped that it can be implemented without further delay.
Anticipating what the next day would hold on the eve before, Ranae commented how while this day was so long awaited, it would be a day of relief but not one of outright celebration. At long last, her wife has become a legal parent of their two children but in reality “she was their mom since the moment we decided to have kids together.” "Equality for Children" with Ranae at the helm will continue to call on the Government to adopt all of the recommendations in O’Mahony’s report. Following the event, Ranae commented:
We like to think of Ireland as a country where equality is available to all. But the reality is, that until the most vulnerable in our society are afforded the right to a legal connection with both of their parents, we are anything but equal. No one is equal until we all are.
Visit the "Equality for Children" website here: https://equalityforchildren.ie/