Saturday 3 December 2016

Gaybo was right - this is about women and sex

Pushing 'lone parents' further into poverty smacks of punishment for the crime of being an 'unmarried mother', says Carol Hunt

Published 14/06/2015 | 02:30

Gay Byrne
Gay Byrne

Gay Byrne, as he often does, got straight to the nub of the issue. "This has to do with sex specifically," he said, "and there's a feeling that these girls are getting away with something, [that] this is promiscuity, rampant in our society, and they are being paid to do it." It's 1986 and Gay is interviewing Marianne McArdle, an "unmarried" mother with two children, and Mary Higgins, Information Officer with Cherish (now One Family) on his RTE radio show.

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Ireland was a cold house for women who got pregnant "outside of wedlock" then, as if it was something that they managed to do all on their evil-minded ownsome. Their children, if they were allowed to keep them, were often called "bastards" and the women themselves (Byrne's excellent description of societal attitudes, that they were "being paid to do it", captured it perfectly) often thought of as little better than whores.

Why? Because, people felt threatened by ''women getting by without men". "Irish women," Marianne explained, "had a particular role in society - to bring up children within the family."

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