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Northern Ireland Fathers' Rights Movement campaign for family law 'equality'

By Leona O'Neill

Members of a fathers' rights group have vowed to mount protests at every courthouse in Northern Ireland over the coming weeks, as they ramp up their fight for 'equality in family law'.

The Northern Ireland Fathers' Rights Movement gathered at Londonderry Magistrates Court on Friday to call for an overhaul of family law and highlight issues surrounding child custody and child support that affect fathers and their children.

The group says many of its members are fathers who desire to share the parenting of their children equally with the mothers of their children in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown or divorce.

Protest organiser Aaron Gill (29), a father-of-one from Derry, says more needs to be done to protect fathers' rights to see their children, and that their campaign is just getting started.

"Our protest is about parent alienation," said Aaron. "This is basically when a child isn't allowed to see one parent. Some of us in the group haven't seen our children in over a year or more.

"We have all been through the family court system. We feel that the courts aren't doing enough.

"Our aim is to create a greater awareness of 50/50 shared parenting following relationship breakdown.

"We are campaigning for reform of Family Law and want to bring to an end a system were unsubstantiated allegations can be made against the non-resident parent without supporting evidence. The fact is that it is still the case that in 2017, mothers and fathers do not have equal rights. We live in a society where it is the accepted norm that women should demand equality in the public sphere, while maintaining special privileges in the private sphere. We say this is unjust and demand equality now."

Derry City and Strabane DUP Councillor Graham Warke was among the supporters. He said he'll take the issue through council and to Stormont.

Mr Gill said that the group will be protesting outside every court house in Northern Ireland in the coming months, showing support for fellow fathers unable to see their children.

The Northern Ireland Fathers Rights Movement can be contacted through their Facebook page www.facebook.com/TFRM.NI.

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