'I can't contemplate taking a sick day, let alone not working'
WORKING mum Lorraine O'Neill is mired in negative equity and struggles to pay for childcare – but giving up the career she has spent so long building is not an option.
"If I had to give up my work in the morning, it would break my heart," said the salon-owner from Cavan town.
Lorraine has owned her own salon since she was 23 and spent the following 16 years building it into the successful business it is today.
She is also mum to four-year-old Mia and both Lorraine and her partner, Terry Fay, a sales rep, work.
She was angered by Leo Varadkar's comments about mothers having to give up work if they don't earn enough to cover childcare costs.
"There is absolutely no way I could do without my salary. Myself and Terry both had houses before we met, so we have two mortgages, and I have an investment property in Dublin that's in negative equity. I can't contemplate taking a sick day, let alone not working," she said.
Mia has cystic fibrosis and she attends a creche during the week.
"Childcare is a necessity, it's very costly but it's a necessity. Mia is in a creche and I'm delighted with the care she gets there. It costs €120 a week and that's not including Saturdays, which I work, so I have to get someone to mind her then.
"I want the best childcare possible, so I have to do it. If I was going into Brown Thomas and spending €120 a week on something gorgeous – that's a luxury – childcare is not."
Meanwhile, Siobhan O'Neill, director of mumstown.ie and a mother-of-four, said women using the website yesterday were incensed by the minister's comments.
"Lots of mums are higher earners than their partners, so that was a little chauvinistic," she said.
Ms O'Neill said it can be difficult to step off the career ladder. She said that women whose salaries might not currently cover their childcare costs, often continue working in the knowledge that their pay will increase in the coming years.