This weekend (24 and 25 September) Matt O’Connor, the founder of the group Fathers 4 Justice, along with many other disenfranchised fathers will protest outside Buckingham Palace by holding a hunger strike.
The protest is a continuation of the hunger strike held outside the home of Prime Minister David Cameron in Oxfordshire, in July 2011, which was prompted by Mr Cameron’s comments on Fathers Day.
On that day, Mr Cameron said that “its high time runaway dads were stigmatised, and the full force of shame was heaped upon them. They should be looked at like drink drivers, people who are beyond the pale.”
As well as trying to get these comments retracted, Matt O’Connor and the Fathers 4 Justice wanted to protest against the Government for apparently breaking the pre-election promises they made in 2010 to reform family law in favour of fathers.
Fathers 4 Justice hope to see changes to the current family law system so that when couples separate, there will be a legal presumption of automatic shared parenting, rather than the norm being that the children stay with their mother while the main focus of the father’s responsibility is to provide financial support rather than emotional support.
They also hope that fathers will automatically be included on birth certificates, that contact orders will be enforced so that mothers cannot deny access, that there will be no more ‘secret’ Family Courts and that grandparent will be afforded more rights.
Following Mr O’Connor’s 10 July protest in Oxfordshire, the Prime Minister wrote him a letter. However, Mr O’Connor did not feel that the letter addressed the issues satisfactorily. In response, he announced Hunger 4 Justice 2 to take place for two days on the 24 September.
Mr O’Connor said: “There are few fates worse than the living bereavement of being denied access to your child.
“Fathers are never seen, never respected nor heard. We are like ghosts. And that’s why it’s so important you make your presence seen and heard next Saturday at Buckingham Palace.”
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