Sunday 25 September 2016

Some mothers 'ride the system' when having children - Niamh Horan sparks heated tv debate over working mothers

Published 26/05/2016 | 12:28

Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One
Louise O'Neill on Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One
Niamh Horan on Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One
Niamh Horan on Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One

Twitter went into meltdown last night in response to a heated debate on Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge.

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The host was joined by Al Porter, Alison O’Connor and Niamh Horan, while writer Louise O’Neill sounded off on the soapbox.

“I’m 31 years of age and I don’t want to have children. Sometimes people –well, let’s be real here, women –who decide that they don’t want to have children are called selfish,” she said.

“I don’t think I am selfish. I think it would be more selfish to have the kid and then regret that decision and resent that boy or girl for the rest of their lives.

Niamh Horan on Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One
Niamh Horan on Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One

“I’m a woman, I’m not just a womb,” she concluded.

The Asking for It author’s speech was met by nods of agreement from Niamh Horan, who explained that she was of similar age and also felt under pressure to have children.

She added that it was the behaviour of modern parents, rather than women who don’t want to have children, that can often be selfish.

“A lot of today’s parenting, I find, is quite selfish. You see mums dropping their kids off to a crèche at 7am when it’s dark and picking them up at 7pm at night when it’s dark,” she said.

“They say, ‘well I’m a woman, I want it all and I can have it all.’ Who’s suffering? It’s the child who is suffering at the end of the day.”

The panel began to weigh in on the age-old and frequently divisive question of whether women can “have it all” with both a family and career.

Ms Horan described the “have it all” generation of women as “being pulled from looking after young kids and the workplace, and can they really give either their all, 100pc? I would question that.”

She went on to describe women who “ride the system” and how they can put other women at a disadvantage when seeking work.

“We all know women who might have children back to back, one, two, three, and they’re being paid maternity leave all this time. They come back to work after a year and then they decide to take a career break.

“If you’ve got a man and a woman going for the same job, they both have the same talents and same abilities, they’re both in their early 30s and married, who are the panel gonna pick? I’d say they’re going to edge with the man.

“They’re businesses, they’re not charities, they’re not there to subsidise when women want to have a couple of kids.”

Alison O’Connor was quick to disagree, claiming that Ms Horan was “only a step away from forced sterilisation”.

Ms Horan’s comments sparked fury on Twitter. One user despaired that she had “turned Louise O’Neill’s eloquent point on feminism and motherhood into the worst of misogynist clichés”.

Another wrote: “If Niamh Horan ever becomes a working mother she’ll change her tune.”

However, others commended her for expressing her “unpopular opinion”, and praised her remarks as “hard-hitting home truths”.

Niamh Horan on Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One
Niamh Horan on Cutting Edge. Photo: RTÉ One

“I so agree with Niamh Horan. You can’t have it all as a woman - something has to give. It’s the reality and yes it’s unfair,” one user wrote.

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