Tuesday 25 October 2016

Please stop insulting working parents with token supports

Published 08/10/2016 | 02:30

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

It seems the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone is either not aware or indifferent that the net financial impact on families opting to have a stay-at-home parent is similar to that of childcare fees - as indeed it often is.

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Take, for example, a couple earning €32,000 and €23,000 before having children. Their net household income after tax is approaching €47,000. After having one child, if they both continue to work full-time, their net household income after tax and créche fees is €36,000. If the mother leaves her job to care for her child at home, the family's net income after tax is €29,000.

Increasing the home carer tax credit as proposed will improve this family's very stretched finances by all of €16 per month (enough for two packs of nappies!). At the same time, 10 or 20 times that amount per family is being discussed to help with childcare fees. Let's stop insulting parents by pretending that this token gesture supports, in any meaningful way, their choice to stay at home and care for their own children.

If this couple has two children, it may not make much difference financially whether they both continue in employment (with créche fees) or have a parent at home (not earning any income): their net income after tax and childcare is very similar at €2,300 to €2,400 per month. That doesn't go far to feed, clothe, house and provide for four people. Don't both types of families need and deserve support?

For many parents, if they can, dedicating their time and attention to their children during their early years is priceless.

I hope the Government and Budget will see fit to recognise the value for children, parents and society, of parents caring for their own children, in a much more meaningful way than to date.

Ruth Foley, Clondalkin, Dublin

The heavy price of silence

Your editorial of October 6 tells us in relation to the gardaí that "silence is the price paid for acceptance". The policy of silence is much wider than the gardaí.

It is a pity that we did not realise that in Celtic Tiger times when people who raised questions about the wisdom of the policies being followed then were ostracised.

It is also a pity that we still do realise that the policy of silence is still the norm.

The fact that the people who made the decisions which bankrupteded the country are unchallenged when they are still lecturing us all and blaming everyone else for what happened is part of the policy of silence.

A Leavy, Sutton, Dublin 13

Cash benefits of cycling

Ian O'Doherty ('Cycling Do-Gooders...', October 5) sums up governance in this country. You only get heard if you have cash to offer. Solutions are valueless.

A number of studies, including for the British National Health Service, concludes that increases in rates of cycling could save it up to £17bn over 20 years. In Irish terms, that could contribute about €1.7bn to the exchequer over such a period. Or in motoring terms, about two years of motor tax receipts.

But who cares about saving money in Ireland. We'd rather be fat cats.

Dermot Dempsey, Rathmines, Dublin

Vegetarianism better all round

Further to the recent commentary on meat consumption and climate change, I am reminded of the words that Albert Einstein is reported to have said: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

By eliminating or reducing our meat consumption, we will be making a contribution towards combating climate change (I have read that producing a kilo of beef requires 15,000 litres of water, 30kg of carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gas emissions, and five square metres of land - think of the opportunity cost in terms of how these resources could be used to feed the poor), reducing the risk of being diagnosed with certain diseases and cutting our shopping bills all in one, not to mention being, ethically speaking, the better path (I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to read 'Animal Liberation' by Peter Singer). Not a bad deal, is it?

Rob Sadlier, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Brexit and Northern Ireland

It surprises me in the wake of the Brexit vote how many times I've heard commentators point out that the majority in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU and that they shouldn't be forced out against their will. What baffles me is, when did anyone start caring what the majority in Northern Ireland wanted?

It has been the official policy of our country to ignore the wishes of the majority since before the inception of the State, maintaining a constitutional claim of sovereignty over the region until less than 20 years ago, questioning both the legitimacy of Northern Ireland's existence and rights of the majority to decide anything. We won't even call it by its name, only ever condescendingly referring to it as 'the North'.

The British government has constantly ignored the wishes of the majority in Ulster, arguably since Winston Churchill offered Irish unity if Éire joined the war, but certainly since enforcing direct rule at the beginning of the Troubles, preventing the majority from governing themselves and forcing through policies such as Sunningdale and the Anglo Irish agreement, despite vocal, and violent opposition of the majority.

I was always led to believe that, be it in flags, or anthems, marches, schools, sports, justice, gay marriage, terrorism, history, government formation or a hundred other issues, the views of the minority in Northern Ireland took precedence over those of the majority.

If not, well then I guess the Irish Government will be supporting all measures in which the majority expresses a view, and we can all look forward to end of power sharing, the removal of the Irish language from schools and 'God Save the Queen' being sung before all-Ireland rugby matches.

Peter Cosgrove, Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford

Give us a ring!

Reading about 'that' jewel heist in Paris has given me the urge to purchase a 'decent' ring worth about €4m.

However financial constraints just now may mean having to put the idea on the long finger.

Tom Gilsenan, Beaumont D9

Irish Independent

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