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WHO'S THE DADDY? The Herald

The Herald

"WHO'S THE DADDY?"(By Anna Coogan)

Everyone had an opinion about "Copper Face Jacks Roisin" who made a radio appeal to find the father of her baby, but how do paternity DNA tests really impact on men and women?

IT DIVIDED the city, the story of single mum "Roisin" who contacted the Ray D'Arcy radio show in a last attempt to find the man with whom she had a one-night stand, after meeting him in Cooper Face Jacks nightclub, and who was the father of her five-month-old daughter.

Yet judging by the reactions of some men on hearing that a likely father had come forward - "What an idiot", "He almost got away with it" or "Is he stupid?" - it would be very easy to get the impression that many men are united in the attitude that women alone should pay the price for casual sex.

"I disagree with that; in my experience most people are fairly honourable, and willing to do the right thing by a baby," says Brian O'Dwyer, operations manager with Ormond Quay Paternity Services.

"I get guys in here all the time who say, "Listen, I'm OK with stepping up to the plate and making sure the child wants for nothing, but I want to know 100pc that it's mine,"" says Brian, of his experience working for the company that carries out paternity tests.

"They'll often go on and say something like, "It's nothing personal about the girl but we weren't exclusive and I suspect the baby might not be mine.""

A paternity DNA test is a scientifically recognised way of determining the parentage of a child. A positive identification is usually one that comes back with a 99.9999pc match between a baby's DNA and a father's.

"What I have learnt, is that the man who comes in and says he really hopes he is the baby's father, is invariably disappointed," says Brian.

"DNA testing is highly emotive, and once people drop samples in, they are usually apprehensive about the results."

"They will often ring day after day to see if the results are in, even though they have been informed that results take five working days, and can take up to seven days if a weekend is involved," he says.

"Results can have a devastating effect on relationships. We're in the position of bringing happiness to some people, and devastation to others."

"I've also learnt that the man who says he doesn't want anything to do with the baby, and who says something along the lines that he doesn't think the mother is a good person, is in most cases proven to be the father," he says.

It is men who push for most DNA tests, keen to confirm that they are indeed the father of a baby presented to them by a woman they have had a sexual relationship with.

The rising demand for paternity DNA testing reflects the changing sexual attitudes and behaviour of young men and women in Ireland.

"Roisin's baby" (Roisin didn't use hr real name) was conceived after the couple met in a nightclub and went on to have sex following a house party in Rathmines.

After a night of passion, the father of Roisin's baby left for football training, without the couple exchanging any contact details.

"It is men who push for most DNA tests, keen to confirm that they are indeed the father of a baby presented to them"

INFIDELITY

Continues Brian: "By virtue of the fact it is often a woman's word that is being challenged in a paternity DNA test, you could reach a conclusion about infidelity in women."

"But there's no way of knowing if she was the single person and he was playing off field, or why he is so keen for a paternity DNA test," he says.

"The case of the woman called "Roisin" isn't in any way unique. What was extreme about her case was that she had so little information about the man."

"Most women will have more information about the likely party. There'll be contact between the man and woman, which makes organising a test very possible," he says.

"We're not in the business of asking people personal details, yet we hear stories about what leads to a man and a woman coming in here for a paternity DNA test for a baby."

"From what I can make out, alcohol consumption is the main driver behind the increase in the demand for paternity DNA testing," says Brian.

"Alcohol and the youth culture of substance abuse are behind the demand for paternity DNA tests, in the same way that they are behind the rise in sexually transmitted infections."

"They lead to very casual and very short-term sexual relationships, which may result in a child and one person feeling the need to verify the paternity of the child," he says.

"There are other situations that bring people here, such as relationship breaking up and a woman finding a new partner yet not being sure whether the father of her baby is her ex-boyfriend or her current one. Or a woman or a man may have been unfaithful."

"Waiting for the results is more stressful than waiting for your Leaving Cert results. As a part of our job we refer them to counselling services if they need it," he says.
Paternity DNA tests cost between €350 and €750

TESTING TIMES:

Brian O'Dwyer recognises the stress involved for all parties waiting for DNA results.


1 in 3

Fathers tested are not the biological parent

88%

Of paternity DNA tests involve individuals with different surnames, indicating the may not be married

20 - 30

Is the general age of people requesting paternity DNA tests on babies who, in general, are tested shortly after birth

80%

Increase in applications for a paternity DNA tests in the last 24 months

100%

Of your DNA is your personal property, and a sample cannot be taken without your permission