Thursday 18 January 2018

'My child might be better off an orphan' - Lone parents protest welfare cuts

Around 30,000 families are expected to be adversely affected by new welfare cuts.
Around 30,000 families are expected to be adversely affected by new welfare cuts.
Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy

A young mother who is set to be adversely affected by new cuts to lone parent families says her daughter may now be better off an orphan.

The changes mean that single parents in receipt of social welfare will be required to seek employment or training as soon as their youngest child turns seven years old.

Sinead Kirwin told that other allowances might mean her young child might have a better standard of living.

"I don't think any child should be without a parent. I'm not saying that I'm suicidal, but technically, if she were an orphan, my family would rally around and someone could claim a fostering allowance, which is a hell of a lot more than what I'm getting. She could claim an orphan's allowance," she said.

"Maybe somebody could provide for her, because with the financial situation I'm in now, I don't know if I can provide for her."

Ms Kirwin and other single mothers were attending an impromptu press conference organised by Independent Senator Ger Craughwell, which protested against new measures which have caused controversy in the Dáil this week.

Around 30,000 families are expected to be adversely affected.

Mr Craughwell said there are many single parents trying desperately to do what's best for their families.

"This is the blackest day for lone parents that this country has seen since the Magdalene Laundries," he said.

"Their rents are rising, they have water charges, they have all the same charges that the rest of us have to live with. This is simply not good enough."

Another lone mother, Paulina, who didn't want to give her last name, said she is now losing €60 a week, which may severely affect her child.

"I hugely angry and upset. We're the kind of people who are doing their best for their children," the mother, who works part-time, said.

"I'm trying to hide the news from my daughter as best I can because she'd be terrified, so I'm just going to have to try and make ends meet some other way."

Earlier in the Dáil chamber, discussion on the welfare measures sparked a heated exchange between Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Tanaiste Joan Burton.

Ms McDonald accused Ms Burton of adopting a “Thatcherite” stance towards lone parents.

The Labour Party leader defended the Government’s childcare record.

“Over the last 3 years there has been a complete revamp of community based childcare to make it more affordable,” she said.

“In the North of Ireland where Sinn Fein are in power, supports for families are significantly smaller than in Ireland."

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