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Government should hang their heads in shame over children being forced to provide care work – O’Reilly

16 June, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has savaged the government over the newly released Central Statistics Office data from Census 2016 which showed that there are 3,800 children aged 14 and younger providing unpaid care work within the State.

Speaking today, Deputy O’Reilly said;

“There are a lot of things which this Government should be ashamed of, but to allow a situation develop whereby a failure to provide sufficient home help hours and a decent level of care for those who need it is resulting in a situation where 3,800 children under the age of 14 are forced into providing an average of 14 hours of care work a week is an utter disgrace.

“I have seen the toll these situations take on families; they have relayed this information to me in my clinics in Swords and Balbriggan and on the doorsteps when out canvassing throughout Dublin Fingal, but now we have the hard numbers from CSO Census 2016 to back up what families have been saying all along.

“For some the situation whereby children provide care to a sick parent or elderly relative while another parent is out working is the only way to keep a roof over their head or food on the table.

“It is a shocking dereliction of duty by the State to allow this situation to not only exist, but to escalate to the point where there are 3,800 children, and I reiterate children, having to provide care work in the State.

“There are a huge number of people providing care being failed by the State, 195,263 people in fact. This was the number of people who identified themselves as unpaid carers in 2016 Census. Furthermore, of that number 29,311 were over the age of 65.

“While I know for some people that providing unpaid care for a loved one is often the best situation for them, I also know that for the vast majority of people that the excessive cost of care and the inability of the Government to provide adequate and affordable care is causing people to provide huge hours of demanding unpaid care work.

“The fallout from this is that some people have to forego working or are underemployed because they cannot work full time due to the care they provide. On a macroeconomic level, the failure of the State to provide properly and adequately funded care is costing the state taxable revenue, contributing to unemployment and underemployment, and generally causing large scale economic and social difficulties.

“This information should serve as a wakeup call to the failures of this Government and the regressive impact they are having on our society. Nobody, not even Fine Gael, can stand over a situation where 3,800 children provide typically 14 hours care work a week. This situation needs to be immediately addressed as swiftly and compassionately as possible.

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