Support Group Opens For Fathers Who Are Allowed To See Their Children



CORK MAN Tony Hickie describes men like himself as forgotten. Fighting back the tears he said: “Unless you’ve been through it you’ve no idea what it’s like,”

For well over a decade, Tony has been allowed, even encouraged, to see his children.“They grow up so slowly,” sighs Tony. He describes his teenage son Adam as “a little prick now that you couldn’t warm to”. Tony has recently started a support group in Cork City for fathers in similarly difficult situations.

Cian Welsh, a 25 year old unemployed man describes being allowed see your children as “no joke”.

“One minute you’re in Charlies [an early morning house in the city] off your game with a dirty knock [promiscuous lady] in tow, the next there are these strange little shitty assed things, pulling at your face, getting sick in your ears. It’s like a nightmare, except… it’s real, ” says Cian, who has to stop at this point to have a “touch of a panic attack”.

Leslie Flynn (41) says of his daughters, Jessica (6) Lucy (8)…”I wouldn’t say I hate them…It’s just that we’ve very little in common. I like golf trips, dinner with the wife, weekends away with the girlfriend yada yada…they seem to like crying, doing their homework, those sorts of things.”

It’s to their credit that in spite of the trauma the men have endured, they are still capable of seeing humour in their shared difficulties.

Martin O Meara has the group chuckling in identification about a recent stunt he pulled at a child access hearing concerning his son. “I dressed up as Jimmy Saville: sunglasses, white wig, the whole shebang, hoping the judge would think I was a kiddie-fiddler.”

We ask Martin how the stunt was received. “Now then, now then!” he replies, making little or no sense, but earning another guffaw from the long-suffering men which after all, is the most important thing.

The men are unlikely to not see their children anytime soon – that they know. But even though there is a tale of woe in every one of them, now at least, the men have empathetic ears to tell them to. That gives them hope; that and constant prayers to some sort of deity or supernatural being they refer to as: “The Bogeyman”.