Katie and Holly with baby Griffin

11-week old baby refused Irish passport because his UK-based mum is not his dad


A newly-wedded Meath mum who has just has a baby with her same-sex wife in the UK has been denied an Irish passport for her 11-week old son because of her gender.

Katie Gallagher (34) was gutted to receive the dismissive letter from the Irish Passport and Visa Office bluntly refusing her a passport for her son because she is technically neither the mother or father of little Griffin, 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 an American sperm bank.

However because UK-born Holly gave birth to little Griffin last August, she is automatically placed as mother on the birth-cert, leaving Katie to be recognised under the heading of 'parent.'

Photograph Courtesy: Ilaria Petrucci

Outdated Irish laws define parents as only mother or father and offer no alternative title.

So as Katie fails to qualify as mother or father and Holly has no Irish blood, the Passport Office has refused their application

In a devastating letter, they wrote that while recognising Kate as an Irish citizen: "However, for the purposes of Irish law and in particular in this case, for the purposes of the 1956 Act, a parent is understood to mean either the 'mother' or 'father' of the child.

"For the purposes of Irish law, the mother of a child is the person who gives birth to the child or a female adopter of the child.  In this case, as Ms Groombridge gave birth to your son, she is, therefore, regarded as the mother for the purposes of Irish law.

"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 but was raised in Ashbourne, Co. Meath is determined to fight tooth and nail for her son to have the right to an Irish passport.

The newly-wed who married Holly just last week after a six year relationship said she is heartbroken that she can't bring her son home to see her parents because he has no passport.

Because of the laws, she will now have to resort to getting Griffin's passport from the UK, which recognises single sex relationships and surrogacy births.

The couple say that since they began highlighting this issue, they have been contacted by numerous same-sex couples in the UK who also can't get an Irish passport for their children because of the outdated Irish laws.

"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 Kate

"I proposed to Holly while backpacking in Australia three years ago and when we returned to London, we knew that it was the right time to start a family.

"We searched for a donor that bared a family resemblance to Holly in the hope that our baby would have similar attributes.  Amazingly, Griffin was born with ginger hair like Holly.

"After two failed IVF attempts, my embryo was successfully implanted in Holly and when we got the positive pregnancy test, we were over the moon.

"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.

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

Griffin was born on August 18 last and Kate almost immediately applied for an Irish passport for her son.

"I applied for an Irish passport and on the form it states that if a child is born abroad, there must be an Irish parent, which I am.  It doesn't state mother and father, just parent.

"By law, Holly is down on Griffin's birth cert as his mother because she gave birth to him and I am down as a parent. 

"However Irish law still only recognises a male and female parent and this hasn't been addressed despite the historical same-sex marriage referendum

"The 1956 law still remains and because of that, I've been denied the right to give my son an Irish passport and being him home under the Irish banner to see his grandparents in Ashbourne and all his family

"Luckily my family got to meet Griffin last week when they travelled over for our wedding."

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

However as this could take years, Katie and Holly 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.

"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," she concluded.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: While it is not possible for the Department to comment on individual passport applications, generally speaking all passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008 . As set out in the Act, passports may only be issued to Irish citizens.

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.

UPDATE from Department of Justice:

Under Irish law, the mother of a child is the woman who gives birth to the child. This principle was confirmed in 2014 by the Supreme Court and it applies even if the child has been conceived using a donated egg. 

Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provide for parentage through donor-assisted reproduction. These Parts are to be commenced, in due course, by the Minister for Health. The Act makes provision for parentage to be assigned retrospectively, through a court-based procedure, to the second member of a couple who have a donor-conceived child, but only where certain conditions are fulfilled. Where the conditions are not fulfilled, parentage will be assigned under current law, which means that only the woman who gives birth and the biological father may be included on the birth certificate. The position is the same for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.