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Dr Walsh's comments are not helpful to women parenting alone - Mary Lou McDonald

28 January, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today said that "women parenting alone deserve to be treated with respect".

Ms McDonald was responding to recent comments by Dr Edward Walsh of Limerick University after he made negative comments about women parenting alone.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Irish society is littered with examples of whole groups of people being actively discriminated against. Ethnic minorities, asylum seekers, the gay community, women, people with disabilities, travellers and single mothers have all been the targets of discrimination. Why have these people become the focus of hate and discrimination? Because they are easy targets and because they are groups who have been kicked around and demonised by sections of society.

"It is only a few months since an EU Commissioner-elect was quoted as saying that children who only have a mother and no father were 'the children of a not very good mother'. Both myself and my colleague Bairbre de Brún actively opposed the Commissioner's views and misconceptions. Since election to the European Parliament, Sinn Féin has consistently stood up for the rights of some of the most victimised people within our society. We have been pro-active in challenging discrimination.

"Dr Walsh's comments are both ignorant and wrong-headed. He suggests that the state has encouraged women parenting alone through "incentives". According to a recent report by the Central Statistics Office, one-parent families are 3.5 times more likely to experience poverty than any other group within society.

"In a more recent survey, it has emerged that the gender pay gap has substantially increased for Irish women and they are now the most discriminated against within the EU. Irish women are paid 17% less for the same work as Irish men. This reopens the wider debate regarding the treatment of women within society.

"This society must reject the notion held by some, that women parenting alone are somehow bad people and women in general are somehow less equal. Sinn Féin believes in bringing about fundamental change within society to both mindsets and social conditions." ENDS

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