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Levels of religious knowledge lower than in Republic, poll finds

Levels of religious knowledge in Northern Ireland are even lower than in the Republic according to a new opinion poll conducted by Millward Brown Ulster on behalf of The Iona Institute, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland (EAI) and the Evangelical Alliance (Northern Ireland).

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Religious schools need reassurance over ethos, says Coveney

Those running religious schools, such as religious orders, deserve to be reassured about the ethos of their schools, according to Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney. Speaking in the Dáil in a debate about education, he said that it was “important for us to accommodate different faiths cultures within the education system”.

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Budget made tax individualisation worse, says Burton

Wednesday's Budget increased the burden on single income couples, according to Labour spokesperson on Finance Joan Burton. In her remarks reacting to the Budget, she said the Government had broken its pledge to reform tax individualisation, under which a married couple are treated as individuals for tax purposes.

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Divorce harms environment as well as family life, study finds

Divorce harms the environment by creating two houses where there was one and thereby increasing the energy and water consumption of those who used to live together, according to a study by US researchers.

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Justice Minister confirms same-sex couples to get tax and pension rights

Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan has told gay activists that new legislation will give same-sex couples many of the same rights currently enjoyed by marriage. Speaking yesterday at the launch of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network's annual report, he said that the Government could not create same-sex marriage, because of the Constitutional definition of marriage..

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Lesbian mother claims sperm donor “acted as father” to children

A lesbian who used donated sperm to conceive two children has explained that her decision to press the sperm donor for child support payments resulted from the fact that he had acted as a father to the children for much of their lives.

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Higher rate of suicide among separated people, study finds

Separated men and women have far higher suicide rates compared married people, according to new research launched last night. It is the first time that marital breakdown has been highlighted as a high risk factor for suicide.

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One in four children in UK don't consider fathers to be “close”, says study

A new study released yesterday reveals that many UK children place little value on their relationship with their fathers. One child in four does not consider their father to be close family, according to a study published today.

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Sperm donor forced to pay support to child of lesbian

A UK sperm donor who helped a lesbian couple to conceive two children is now being made to pay thousands of pounds for their upbringing, he said. Andy Bathie, 37, agreed to assist same sex married couple Sharon and Terri Arnold after they assured him he would have no involvement in raising the boy and girl.

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Minister promises same-sex couples pension and tax rights

Minister for Equality Sean Power has said that the Government's Civil Partnership Bill will “include a package of measures in relation to tax, pensions, benefits and property in common, as well as mutual enforceable obligations”.

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Non-religious more likely to experience marital breakdown, new Census data shows

People who describe themselves as being of no religion are more likely to be divorced or separated, according to new Census data. According to the Central Statistics Office's (CSO) report, Equality in Ireland, 7.3 per cent of those of no religion have experienced marital breakdown, higher than the 4.6 per cent figure for Catholics, or 6.8 per cent for other Christians.

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Census data shows 40 per cent rise in lone parents

There are now almost 40 per cent more lone parents in Ireland than there were four years ago, according to new figures. A report on equality issued by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that there were 112,900 lone parent families last year, up from 81,600 in 2002.

The Iona Institute's recent document, ‘Marriage Breakdown and Family Structure in Ireland’ shows that 21 per cent of children are now living in lone parent parents. This has risen from just over 12 per cent in 1986.

The new CSO report was commissioned by the social partners and breaks down the population by the nine areas of equality as identified by the Equality Authority. These include gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, race, sex, religion and membership of the Travelling community.

The statistics show a marked difference in sex across a range of areas with women significantly less likely to be in employment compared to men and more likely than men to work as carers. While women account for half the population, they represent 91 per cent of lone parents and 62 per cent of carers.

The employment rate for women aged 20-44 with dependent children varies from 57 per cent when the youngest child is under four years, rising to 63 per cent when the youngest child was aged six to 17.

The comparable rates for men were more even at about 91 per cent, irrespective of the age of the child. Employment rates for lone parents were 55 per cent, compared to 74 per cent for other parents.

Statistics relating to age show that the population is growing older, although we still have a significantly younger population than most EU countries. The proportion of the population aged under 15 fell from 30 per cent in 1981 to 20 per cent in 2006. The percentage of the population aged 65 and over has remained more stable, increasing from 10.7 per cent in 1981 to 11 per cent last year.


Unmarried father wins Supreme Court case

An unmarried father has won the chance to gain joint custody of his twin three year old sons after the Supreme Court declared that their mother's decision to keep them in Britain contrary to his wishes was a breach of the Hague international convention on child abduction. The court decided that her actions breached the rights of custody of the District Court here.

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Family emerges as top concern for children in “Big Ballot”

Irish children regard the family as their top concern in a nationwide poll conducted by the Ombudsman for Children. The survey, entitled the Big Ballot, found that 31 per cent of children rated Family and Care as their biggest concern.

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Conference warned about “appalling” soap operas

Parents need to be more aware of the impact that soap operas such as EastEnders are having on young people's outlooks, a conference on suicide prevention in schools warned last week. Broadcaster and psychotherapist Gareth O' Callaghan said children as young as four were being exposed to soap operas where the story lines were often "appalling".

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New Bill allowing lesbians to have children “without father” opposed in UK

A new Bill in the UK which would allow lesbian couples to have children without any lasting involvement from the father is set to be strongly opposed by politicians and Church leaders. The proposal, included in the Labour Government's embryo Bill, would allow lesbian couples to have test tube children without including the father.

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Parents feel not enough time is spent with children: poll

Families where both parents are in the workplace are significantly less likely to feel “very satisfied” with the amount of time they spend with their children, according to a new poll. The survey, carried out on behalf of children's charity Barnardos, found that where both parents worked full-time, 36 per cent of parents said they were very satisfied with the time they spent with their children, rising to 52 per cent among households where one parent stayed at home.

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Adulthood starting later, says leading academic

Delayed marriage, prolonged education and widespread acceptance of pre-marital sex is postponing adulthood for many young people, according to Professor Jeffery Arnett. In a talk given in Trinity College Dublin last night, Professor Arnett said that many people now do not fully enter into adulthood until their 30s.

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Teachers' union leader questions parents' right to denominational schools

John Carr, the leader of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) has questioned whether parents have the right to send their children to denominational schools. Speaking at an education conference of the INTO, he suggested that a system which contained denominational and non-denominational schools would lead to ‘segregation’.

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Church of Ireland schools issue legal challenge to Dept of Education

Four Church of Ireland schools in Dublin have begun legal proceedings against the Department of Education on the grounds that they are being forced to accept teachers redeployed from other schools and that this could undermine their ethos. The schools say that the Department's stance, obliging them to accept these teachers, is unlawful.

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"The child...shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents."

Article 7. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.