Sunday 11 December 2016

Emer O’Kelly: Cuts to mothers won't fix problem of 'multiple fathers'

Penalising women who have children by more than one partner will only hurt those children

Emer O’Kelly

Published 16/12/2012 | 05:00

'Morally and socially wrong," puffed Fine Gael backbench TD Derek Keating in the Dail last week. Given that the Social Welfare Bill was being debated, and there were already serious fears that a number of Labour backbench TDs might vote against the Government (although it was only the party heavyweight Colm Keaveney who ultimately jumped ship), you might have expected that it was the welfare cuts that were occupying Mr Keating's thoughts. But no, it was multiples of errant fathers who were exercising his moral scruples. And he wanted them taught a lesson. At least, that's what he seemed to be saying.

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Politicians usually have perfect solutions to all of our problems, even moral and social ones, but only when they're in opposition. Then they get into government and proceed to break every pre-election promise they made. But they do not think that's morally or socially wrong.

But Derek Keating has one small solution: we "cannot continue to pick up the expense for these new arrangements" and he wants a review. And by "review" he means "reduction". It's all about women who have a number of children with "multiple fathers," and Mr Keating thinks the State should not be funding services for these women "because of the failings of the fathers of these children". Apparently he's come across "multiple such cases" (Mr Keating seems to like that word) with women caring for "not one child or two, but for three and four children by multiple fathers who are uncaring and failing in their duties of care and support, with the consequences picked up by the taxpayer".

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