Michael Finnegan, President of The Workers’ Party today condemned cuts on lone parents as ‘shameful discrimination against both women and the most vulnerable children.’ He was addressing a lone parents’ protest outside Dail Eireann. In expressing his support he said that particularly disgraceful is the cessation of lone parents’ payments once the youngest child is 7 years old. He pointed out that 65% of the country’s poorest children are from one parent families and before any cuts they were already living in poverty and doing without essentials such as adequate heating, substantial meals, clothing and footwear.
Michael Finnegan asked, ‘What is a parent to do with a 7 year old? Leave them home alone to fend for themselves? This cut exposes a ruthless disregard for the welfare of the poorest children. A host of other measures cutting incomes to single parents were also introduced. These include much more stringent means testing and the loss of any extra income such as CE schemes. Furthermore, it must be remembered that many disadvantaged areas have a high proportion of single parent families and cuts to education also targeted these areas. Already they suffer huge speech, literacy and numeracy difficulties. What future is in store for children when their incomes, education, CE schemes and communities have been devastated? The total effect of all of this will wreak destruction on both communities and children’s lives for decades to come. Young people will seek outlets for their energies and sadly crime and drugs flourish is such situations.’
Mr. Finnegan concluded, ‘what is particularly objectionable is that many of those Ministers and TDs who supported these measures cut their political teeth in equality issues. This is a double standard. Provision of an adequate income for single parents was a core demand of the Women’s Liberation Movement but advances gained over decades are now overturned. Anyone concerned about equality can justifiably ask just who do these Ministers and TDs represent.’
Issued 16th March 2012