Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Una voce?

April 19th, 2012 · 2 Comments · Irish Politics, Social Policy

I saw the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, this morning. We were both in Croke Park.  She to attend one meeting and me to attend another.  I was lost.  I could have gone over and said hello and asked her about the Scandinavian model of childcare that her colleague the Minister for Social Protection had talked about the night before in the Dáil during the beginning of the Social Welfare Bill 2012 debate.  Childcare that would help parents who are parenting alone enter the workplace.  But I was hassled as I was in the wrong place and didn’t have a car to bring me around to the other side of Croker to where I was expected.  Anyway I would not have got an answer and it might not have been fair that early in the morning.  Later that morning the Minister had an answer for the press saying it was cabinet policy.

We’ve seen no white paper on childcare or debate on how it will be organised in the run up to this.  Yet legislation is being passed on the basis of it maybe happening in the next seven months.  We don’t yet have Children First on a statutory basis which I think is the Minister for Children’s priority followed by the Children’s rights referendum.

Bringing in affordable childcare for all parents whether they are parenting alone or otherwise is not on this government’s agenda.  Until last night.  And even now I’m not so sure it’s there at all.  (Offers to bring everyone together and organise it by Christmas are being made by some – they must have a money printing factory out the back.)

So the issue of childcare is not the real issue here. (It is definitely an issue but not the issue). While people speculate about the games being played here either inside or outside the government or the individual parties, there is a fundamental issue which might again get lost in the midst of this.  That of those parenting alone and their children who are the most at risk of poverty in this state.

So rather than feeding the speculation further I want to leave the final word for the moment to Frances Byrne, the CEO of OPEN who yesterday spoke at a media event by those involved in the 7 is too young campaign. Because the last four months and the last 6 years of policy and negotiation and real reform are the issues which should be under debate.  Not opportunities for people to belittle lone parents (some of the back bench speeches tonight in the Dáil were shameful in their bitter bigotry) or for those in government to stake claims or go into denial. This issue has some time to run but hopefully supporting those parenting alone and their children will remain the focus of discussion.



2 Comments so far