Kenny attempts to reassure women over insolvency controversy
Fianna Fáil leader criticises draft guidelines as ‘anti family and anti-employment’
“I want to make this perfectly clear to every person in the country, man and woman, particularly women, that no guideline laid down by the personal insolvency agency will be mandatory or have a condition that anybody has to give up a job,” Enda Kenny told the Dáil. Photograph: Getty Images
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has attempted to reassure women that they will not be forced to give up their jobs under incoming insolvency arrangements if their childcare costs exceed their income.
Mr Kenny’s comments follow Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar’s concession that the new resolution regime would examine childminding bills in cases where the outlay was preventing parents from making mortgage repayments.
“I want to make this perfectly clear to every person in the country, man and woman, particularly women, that no guideline laid down by the personal insolvency agency will be mandatory or have a condition that anybody has to give up a job,” Mr Kenny told the Dáil.
“This Government is focused on getting people back to work. Why in heaven’s name would we be supportive of some phantom debate that says people are going to be forced to give up employment?”
Mr Kenny said he wanted to put an end “to any assertion, any allegation, any perception that somebody is going to be forced to give up their job” in a personal insolvency situation.
Guidelines for creditors and debtors will be published by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and head of the Insolvency Service of Ireland Lorcan O’Connor after Easter, but a draft version has been leaked.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin yesterday denounced the guidelines as “anti-women, anti-family and anti-employment”. He said childcare programmes were essential for children’s development and called for “independent oversight” of insolvency arrangements entered into with banks. He accused the Government of behaving in an “incoherent” fashion.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald welcomed Mr Kenny’s “very pro-women sentiments”, but was concerned women could be pushed out of the workforce if their childcare costs were greater than their income.
Labour Senator Ivana Bacik stressed that childcare costs were “short-term” costs.
“I think it would be most unfortunate and indeed most shortsighted for any parent, man or woman, to be forced to give up work because for a short period of years the cost of childcare may come close to the income that they’re making from a job,” Ms Bacik said.
The National Women’s Council director, Orla O’Connor, described the comments as “anti-women and anti-children”.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme, she said the Government needed to make a clear statement that the costs would remain outside of the new personal insolvency regime.
Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty, who was expelled from the Labour Party after voting against the Coalition’s first budget, said childcare costs in Dublin could cost up to €1,000 a month. “Not only is the Government taxing maternity leave, cutting child benefit and back to school payments. Certain elements in Government now want to force women out of the workplace,” Mr Nulty said.