herald

Friday 23 February 2018

Newlywed 'heartbroken' after son denied Irish passport as law doesn't recognise her as a mum

Katie (right) and Holly with Griffin on their wedding day
Katie (right) and Holly with Griffin on their wedding day
Katie Gallagher (right) with her wife Holly Groombridge and their baby Griffin

A newlywed mum who recently had a baby with her wife in the UK has been denied an Irish passport for her 11-week-old son because of her gender.

Meath woman Katie Gallagher (34) was gutted to receive the letter from the Irish Passport and Visa Office refusing her a passport for her son.

The reason for the refusal was because she is not listed as either the mother or father on the birth cert, despite her own fertilised egg being implanted in her wife's womb as part of an IVF process.

Katie and her wife, Holly Groombridge (31), who live in Suffolk, underwent two attempts at IVF before a successful implantation with Katie's egg and an anonymous sperm donor, who was sourced through a US sperm bank.

However, because UK-born Holly gave birth to Griffin last August, she is automatically placed as mother on the birth certificate.

Irish laws define parents as only mother or father and offer no alternative title.

In a devastating letter, it said that, "as Ms Groombridge is not an Irish citizen, your son, Griffin, cannot be regarded as an Irish citizen".

Katie, who was born in Gweedore, Co Donegal, and raised in Ashbourne, Co Meath, is determined to fight tooth and nail for her son to have the right to an Irish passport.

Katie - who married Holly just last week after being in a relationship for six years - said she is heartbroken that she cannot bring her son home to see her parents because he has no passport.

She will now have to get Griffin's passport from the UK, which recognises same-sex relationships and surrogacy births.

Frustrated

"We are just so frustrated and heartbroken that we can't get an Irish passport for our son because of an antiquated law passed in 1956," said Katie.

"Griffin is biologically my child but Holly carried and nurtured him for nine months and formed a strong maternal bond with him.

"From day one, we wanted to create a family together and, this way, we had an equal connection with our child.

"But in law there can only be one mother and that title automatically goes to the woman who gives birth."

The couple say they have been in contact with Dublin Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell, who has been helping them and taking steps to alter legislation.

However, as this could take years, Katie and Holly will have to get Griffin a UK passport just to bring him to Ireland.

"A lot has happened culturally in Ireland since 1956 and the law needs to reflect that," Katie added.

"I just don't want Griffin not to have the right to have an Irish passport because of a law that is essentially gender discrimination."

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "Entitlement to citizenship is governed by Irish law and in particular the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

"Queries relating to the 1956 Act or its interpretation are a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality, which holds responsibility for citizenship legislation."

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