'We want more family-friendly areas'
Mum-of-four Anna Cannon (42) from Wicklow, who runs Rainbusters.ie, thinks Ireland should be getting more family friendly -- not less.
'With four kids under 14 -- Molly (13), Patrick (4), Sean (3) and Maisie (2) -- and a business selling kids' rain-gear, our life revolves around children. My husband Des and I rarely go out as getting a babysitter who can handle four kids is so expensive. So when we do get to go somewhere to spend time together as a family, it's a real treat.
"Ireland is not very family friendly. At home in Sweden, where I'm originally from, practically every café and restaurant has a 'Kids' Corner' with toys and colouring books. Whereas here, we've been to places that wouldn't even allow us to bring the stroller inside and didn't have a high chair.
"They may not have a sign on the door, but some businesses make it painfully obviously that families aren't welcome. As a result, you just end up going back to the same places where you know you won't be treated like second-class citizens.
"Our four year-old Patrick has Asperger's and sometimes has a temper tantrum when we're out. People have come up to us in the supermarket and said: 'Can you not control your child?' I don't think people know how stressful it is to bring four children out, let alone one with special needs. But if we never brought them out, they'd never learn how to behave in a social setting -- something that's especially important for Patrick.
"If you don't want to be around kids, just go somewhere there won't be any. As parents, we leave our kids so we can go out to work -- why shouldn't we spend time as a family in public when we can? Children should be treated like part of society -- not an inconvenience."