Irish Mothers Using DNA Paternity Services

Irish mothers who refuse to believe their cherished sons have fathered illegitimate children are among the most popular users of DNA paternity services, it was revealed today.

A leading paternity testing company claimed its business has rocketed by 80% over the last year in no short measure because of the “great Irish mammy syndrome”.

Brian O’Dwyer, operations director of the Dublin-based Ormonde Quay Paternity Services (OQPS), said potential grandmothers contact the company in their droves to find out how to disprove allegations their son had casual sex.

“There are three types of people who generally contact us – the mother, the alleged father and the alleged father’s mother,” he said.

“It’s the great Irish mammy syndrome. I have had an astonishing number of calls from mothers who believe the girl is not telling the truth.

“They might say that he was only with her for two weeks. It can’t be his.”

Once the prospective – and apparently reluctant – grandmothers find out about the DNA services they set about trying to persuade the son and his partner to take the test, according to Mr O’Dwyer.

OQPS claims that young sexual partners are increasingly turning to DNA testing amid confusion about crisis pregnancies linked to Ireland’s drink culture.

But Treoir, the National Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their Children, urged caution on drawing any firm conclusions from the statistics.

Brenda Forde, information officer with the government-supported voluntary agency, said there are numerous possible reasons for a hike in the number of tests being carried out.

“One of the big reasons is that the cost has gone down considerably,” she said.

“It’s become more accessible. About nine years ago, when fewer people were carrying out services, tests were costing around IR£1,000.

“That’s probably around €1300, and you can get tests for about €300 up to about €800 now.”

OQPS said one in three of its tests over the past 18 months turned up negative – showing that the male client was not the biological father to the child.

In a survey of its records, it also found that in 88% of the tests carried out, the man and woman tested did not share the same surname.

Mr O’Dwyer said their study suggested its clients – mostly in their 20s and 30s – were casual sexual partners.

“I think an awful lot of it is to do with Irish lifestyles, the nightclub scene and the drinks scene,” he said.

“There’s a huge drink culture in Ireland and people get together after a few drinks. It’s the fast living of today’s youth.”

But Ms Forde said the analysis was not detailed enough to suggest any increase in alcohol-fuelled promiscuity.

“We certainly wouldn’t like to link it to drinking and casual sex. There are so many different reasons why people access these services,” she said.

The Treoir spokeswoman pointed out recent research which showed the average age of first-time mothers was increasing and less were getting pregnant in under-23 age groups.

High-profile cases of DNA paternity tests involving celebrities like Boris Becker and Liz Hurley are believed to have boosted their popularity.