Fathers 4 Justice militants vow to strike back on D (for Dads') Day
Sunday 23 May 2004
Fathers 4 Justice, the militant campaign group responsible for the flour-bomb attack on Tony Blair last week, has vowed that the incident will be just the first in a series of protests in the run-up to Fathers' Day on 20 June.
Speaking to The Independent on Sunday yesterday, Matt O'Connor, the founder of Fathers 4 Justice, described Wednesday's attack, in which a condom containing purple flour struck the Prime Minister's back, as "just a shot across the bows of the Government". He promised a co-ordinated "Dads' Day", or "D-Day", campaign of action over the next four weeks. "We are at war, and that war will continue until such time as the Government starts taking the crisis in family law seriously," he said. "We planned three major things for the month before Fathers' Day, and that was the first."
Fathers 4 Justice maintains that thousands of British fathers are being wrongly, or even illegally, denied access to their children. It has vowed to continue with its campaign of "civil disobedience" until the law is changed.
Membership of the group, Mr O'Connor said, had grown at an "unbelievable" rate since the prophylactic protest four days ago. "We had over 3,000 inquiries within 24 hours of the incident," he said. "Membership should easily pass 10,000 this week." After embarrassing the Prime Minister and sparking a major inquiry into security at the House of Commons, Mr O'Connor confirmed that the group was applying for a substantial grant from the Parenting Fund - a £15m government initiative set up this month by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to aid parenting support groups.
The National Family and Parenting Institute (NFPI), which distributes grants from the fund, said that any application from Fathers 4 Justice would be considered on its merits. "If Fathers 4 Justice produces a project that fits within the criteria and the strategic priorities for the fund, then yes, their application would be considered alongside everyone else's. The caveat is that, obviously, we could not fund anything that's illegal," said Vicki Shotbolt, a spokeswoman.
Fathers 4 Justice has already caused widespread traffic disruption in London over recent months, with demonstrators occupying cranes, bridges and flyovers, often dressed as comic-book characters. Later this year, said Mr O'Connor, it will be launching in the US.
"We're already considering something along the lines of a protest at the Statue of Liberty," he said.
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