Monday 20 November 2017

We should be glad when a politician does something for fathers - but Varadkar really needs to do more

Leo Varadkar should also consider what enhances the chances that fathers will play an active role in the lives of their children Photo: Damien Eagers
Leo Varadkar should also consider what enhances the chances that fathers will play an active role in the lives of their children Photo: Damien Eagers
David Quinn

David Quinn

Leo Varadkar's announcement that fathers are to receive two weeks' paid Paternity Leave is broadly to be welcomed. Justifying the measure a few days ago, Varadkar said: "There is plenty of evidence showing the vital role that fathers as well as mothers play in the life of newborn babies and young children. The more time fathers can spend with their babies - the better. I hope that the Government will be in a position to extend this provision further in the years ahead."

When you think about it, in today's febrile, offence-taking environment, this was quite a daring thing for a politician to say.

His statement that "the more time that fathers can spend with their babies - the better", could be construed as an insult to women doing their best to raise their children alone. It's not that, of course. Varadkar is simply saying that having a father is a good thing as well, but he was still running a risk saying it.

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