SINGLE mothers will be forced to name the fathers of their children on birth certificates under planned new legislation.
Around 4,000 children do not have their father named on their birth cert every year. And it has been estimated that overall, one in five of all children born to unmarried parents do not have the name of their father registered on their birth certificates.
The Law Reform Commission has found that the high numbers of unidentified fathers is because many single mothers wrongly believe that naming the father will affect their social welfare benefits.
Others believe that it will give the father automatic legal access rights to the child -- which is also incorrect.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton plans to introduce legislation to make it compulsory for both parents to be named on a child's birth certificate.
The change has been recommended in a report by the Law Reform Commission, which said the legislation would reinforce the right of a child to know their parents.
It warned that without this information, there was a risk of children who were related unknowingly striking up relationships with each other.
The commission found that,"In most cases the mother of the child is aware of who the father of the child is."
Ms Burton will have to decide on exemptions in her legislation for mothers who do not know the identity of the father or who fears for her safety if the father of the child had to be contacted.
Under current legislation, unmarried mothers must get the written permission of the father of the child to put their name on the birth cert.
Children who are born to married couples automatically have both parents' names put on their birth certs.
According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the 4,166 children born in 2007 without their father's name on the birth certificate accounted for around 6pc of the 70,620 children born that year.
In 2008 4,102 children did not have their father's name on their birth cert -- although 495 of these children had their father's name added later in the year.
In Britain, legislation was introduced in 2009 which required mothers to name the father and threatened them with a £200 (€250) fine and seven days in prison for perjury if they gave a false answer. But so far, the law has not been enforced.