Kenny refuses to say if he'll act on mums jobs threat
THE Government is under increasing pressure today to clarify its position on insolvency debt deal guidelines which could force mothers out of the workforce.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to say if he will instruct Justice Minister Alan Shatter to remove the controversial guidelines, which would push women earning less than their childcare costs out of their jobs.
A spokesperson said Mr Kenny was not making any further comment on the issue apart from his assurances to the Dail yesterday that people who earned less than their childcare costs would not be forced to give up their jobs.
The issue has become a hot potato following comments from Minister Leo Varadkar that childcare costs would have to be taken into account for people entering debt relief deals and some parents might have to consider giving up their job.
Senator Averil Power has slammed Government "incoherence" over the proposed personal insolvency rules, which she says are "creating great distress among Dublin families who are crippled by debt".
The Fianna Fail Senator has also criticised the Taoiseach for washing his hands of the exorbitant cost of childcare – an issue that is putting thousands of Dublin families in an impossible position, she said.
"No family should find themselves in situation where they have to choose between a job and childcare. It is simply not good enough for the Taoiseach to wash his hands on this issue, when it's causing so much stress for young families."
Ms Power said there were still much confusion over the issue and "while the Taoiseach has said no one will be forced to quit their job, he stopped short of stating that childcare costs will be taken off the table completely.
"Meanwhile, his Cabinet colleague Minister Leo Varadkar could not have been clearer that childcare will be an issue under new insolvency rules," she added.
"We need to know once and for all that there will be no anti-family, anti-women and anti-job rules under Fine Gael and Labour's new personal insolvency arrangement."
In the Dail, Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald demanded that the Taoiseach and the Government clarify that the guidelines would not turn out to be anti-woman, while Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused Mr Kenny of creating "nanny Statism" through the management of the personal insolvency service.
Mr Martin said the controversy "highlights the fundamental flaw that there is no independent oversight of the banks and how they propose to deal with customers and those in mortgage arrears".
Irene Gunning, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, which represents 3,300 childcare professionals, said the controversy was drawing attention away from "the real issue, which is about greater investment in childcare".
It was ridiculous to be "squabbling" about guidelines putting pressure on women to stay at home when this avoided the real issue, she said.
See Sinead Ryan, page 17