Wednesday 21 March 2018

Varadkar apology over working mothers

Treacy Hogan and Fionnan Sheahan

TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar has apologised for his controversial comments on women being forced to give up their jobs in mortgage-debt deals.

But European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton, a long-time friend of Mr Varadkar, hit out at her ministerial colleague saying he was "wrong" to say that women may have to give up their jobs under insolvency arrangements.

The minister's comments were based upon draft guidelines suggesting women would have to give up their job if they earn less than the childcare expenses.

Mr Varadkar said he was sorry if he said anything that contradicted comments made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that women would not be forced to give up their jobs.

Speaking at Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar said the recommendations on personal insolvency had not yet been published and there was no need "to scare" people who were in debt.

"I know that childcare is not a luxury. For some people it is like a second mortgage."

The minister, whose remarks sparked fury among women's groups, said the Taoiseach was right to state that no women would have to give up their jobs.

"I'm sorry if I said anything that was contradictory," he said.


Asked by the Irish Independent if he regretted making the remarks, Mr Varadkar said he was happy to clarify the matter.

However, he is stressing that nobody would be asked to give up their jobs but admitted the new insolvency regime would examine child-minding bills in cases where such costs exceeded income.

Ms Creighton said she would be "absolutely, vehemently opposed" to women being pushed out of their jobs.

"We're all aware of the demographics, we're all aware that in the future there's going to be a huge challenge in actually having enough people to fill posts in the labour market," she said.

"The idea that we push women out of work would be nonsensical, and I would be absolutely, vehemently opposed to it," she said.

The junior minister said childcare would be "absolutely" protected, even in situations where the cost of the childcare exceeded earnings.

"It can't just be measured in the short term. There is a medium and long-term benefit in terms of the individual employee and their career path, and what they can contribute in their own lifetime to the economy, and also in terms of the overall need for us as a country to have more women in the labour force," she said.

"It's not the role of banks or liquidators or anybody else to determine anybody's personal lives," she said.

Irish Independent

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