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Tánaiste’s attack on lone parent families illustrates ‘Thatcherite stance’ – McDonald

2 July, 2015 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald slammed the Tánaiste for her introduction of cuts to the Lone Parent Allowance which come into effect today. Deputy McDonald said that the cuts were punishing those most at risk of poverty, with working parents struggling hugely in the absence of adequate childcare.  

Deputy McDonald said

 “Tánaiste, this week you will take up to €87-a-week from more than 10,000 single parent families. This is the eighth successive cut that you have inflicted on lone parent families. The vast majority of these parents are women. Many are in low-paid and insecure jobs. Many more are living in or at risk of poverty.

 “In 2012, you promised that this cut was dependent on "there being a system of safe, affordable and accessible child care in place, similar to what is found in the Scandinavian countries". You said very definitively that without affordable and accessible childcare, "the measure will not proceed". In many communities childcare is simply not available.

“When Fianna Fáil first cut child benefit, you said this was anti-woman. Your party said it highlighted the lack of influence of women in Cabinet. But here you are, in government, introducing a measure that is both anti-woman and anti-child.

“Tánaiste, why have you broken your solemn commitment that, in the absence of accessible and affordable child care, you would not introduce this cut? You continuously and conspicuously avoid answering this central question. Many lone parents will be forced to leave employment in the absence of adequate childcare.

“Tánaiste, you’re trying to argue that black is white. You’re trying to convince a group at families at risk of poverty, who are working very hard to raise their children in the most difficult of circumstances, that by reducing their income you are assisting them out of poverty.

“You are implying that all those parents at their wits end have somehow got their figures wrong. They don’t get the figures wrong because they can’t afford to.

“For all of your supposed concern Tánaiste, these struggling families can see a Thatcherite stance from you and your utter indifference. If you are not in a position to work 19 hours, you are in difficulty, something which you have inadvertently acknowledged.

“Lone parent families have suffered enough under your government. Will you Tánaiste, even at this late stage, reverse this cruel and unjust decision to push thousands of one-parent families into poverty?

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