Ahead of the Oireachtas debate on the motion to establish a Joint Committee on Gender Equality today (9th November 2021), civil society organisations have welcomed the setting up of this Committee and called on it to implement the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality in full, prioritising a referendum to make the recommended Constitutional changes in relation to non- discrimination (Art. 40), the value of care (Art. 41.2. on ‘woman in the home’) and Article 41.3 on the Constitutional definition of the family.
The recommendations by the Citizens Assembly are ground-breaking and send a strong and clear signal to Government and all decision makers that gender equality needs to be at the centre of our Constitution, our legislation and our policies.
These recommendations come after long campaigns by civil society organisations to reform our constitution to reflect a modern Ireland with the value of equality at its centre.
Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council (NWC) said,
“We welcome and support the establishment of the Committee to discuss how we can best implement the comprehensive recommendations by the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality. In particular, we call on the Committee to prioritise the necessary changes to our Constitution on women, the value of care and care work and on the definition of the family.
In line with the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly, we urgently need to replace the sexist and outdated wording of Art. 41.2 of our Constitution and replace it with wording that recognises the value of care within the home and the wider community.”
Karen Kiernan, One Family said,
“The establishment of this Committee on Gender Equality is very welcome to drive forward the implementation of the wide-ranging recommendations by the Citizens Assembly. The recommendation to recognise all forms of families in our Constitution, not only families based on marriage, will finally recognise the diversity of family life in Ireland and particularly provide status and recognition to one parent families.”
Organisations supporting this call include the National Women’s Council (NWC), One Family, Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL), Children’s Rights Alliance, Treoir, Family Carers Ireland and Care Alliance Ireland.
For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104.
Notes to Editor:
Full report on the recommendation of the Citizens Assembly
Recommendations in relation to the Constitution are:
Insert a new clause into Article 40 to refer explicitly to gender equality and non-discrimination.
Delete and replace the text of Article 41.2 (woman in the home) with language that is not gender specific and obliges the State to take reasonable measures to support care within the home and wider community.
Amend Article 41 so that it would protect private and family life, with the protection afforded to the family not limited to the marital family.
In 2020 there was a 20% increase in demand for One Family’s services for lone parent and separating families including 17% increase in demand for Parenting during Separation courses
Ireland is facing a tsunami of separation and divorce following the pandemic and family law and support services are not prepared according to One Family – Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating. The charity, commenting at the launch of its Annual Review for 2020, said demand for its specialised family support services dramatically increased in 2020 with a 20% rise in client services and a 17% increase in demand for its parenting during separation courses.
One Family CEO, Karen Kiernan said, “For many separated families the pandemic and lockdowns acted as a pressure cooker exasperating old grievances and increasing conflict. There was a huge increase in calls from parents in distress (68% increase in calls to the askonefamily helpline in Q2 2020 compared with the same period in 2019) as issues of relationship breakdown, access, guardianship and child maintenance coincided with reduced access to courts services; leading to increased conflict and mental distress. We worked to support parents and we provided information guides, advocated on behalf of parents, and brought all our services on-line affectively bringing our services to every county. But this demand for services, particularly our mediation and Tusla funded Separating Well for Children service, has meant services are now extremely stressed and we are worried about a future surge as families struggle with family breakdown.”
Geraldine Kelly, One Family Director of Parenting Services said, “What we found is that support services are there in local communities if you have a parenting issue or if you are separating amicably but if there is conflict, or legal issues, which is often the case, specialist services are very hard to find. Currently, we are receiving calls from support services across the country looking to refer families to us and we are trying to accommodate them. But we have limited resources and demand is so high. This leaves many families in crisis waiting longer than we would like. At the moment, we have with a six-month waiting list for Separating Well for Children and eighteen-month wait for counselling services; when your family is in crisis this is a long-time. Any delay can increase the level of conflict in the family and impact greatly on the wellbeing of children and parents.”
One Family CEO, Karen Kiernan said, “We need to see a commitment from Government to provide funding in local communities for separating families, people sharing parenting and particularly for those in conflict. There is a tsunami approaching which will have a knock-on effect on children and families unless we prepare now.”
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.
These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 0818 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie. The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on 0818 66 22 12 or 01-6629212.
For further information visit: https://onefamily.ie/
Available for Interview
Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 086 850 9191
Noel Sweeney, Communications and Events Manager | t: 085 7241294
Press Release, Tuesday 5th October 2021
The National One Parent Family Alliance (NOPFA) has today called for Budget 2022 to prioritise one parent families. Launching the Alliance’s pre-budget priorities, Chair of the Alliance, Karen Kiernan of One Family said:
“Years of reports, research and evidence has confirmed what we already know from frontline services – One-parent families and their children are the group most at risk of poverty and social exclusion in Ireland today. We are now a week away from Budget day. Now is not the time for half-measures but to act so another generation isn’t lost to poverty. We are not calling for anything radical, but for the Minister to look at the evidence and to act accordingly.”
NOFPA’s ‘Budget 2022 Priorities’ submission contains 5 key asks for government that if acted upon, could result in real change for one parent families in Budget 2022.
- Ensure our social protection system recognises the additional caring responsibilities of those parenting alone
Tricia Keilthy, Society of St. Vincent de Paul said: “Lone parents continue to be more at risk of poverty and deprivation and more likely to be in low paying, insecure jobs. These very high levels of poverty have persisted through boom and bust. While recent budgets have tried to unwind previous disastrous cuts, more is needed to recognise the financial and practical challenges of parenting alone. We are calling on government to extend Jobseekers Transition Payment to parents in work, education or training until their youngest child reaches the end of second level education in acknowledgement that lone parents caring responsibilities do not end when a child turns 14”.
- Guarantee early years and childcare policies supports the needs of children in one parent families
“NOPFA calls for investment over a series of budgets to deliver a public model of early years care and education with free childcare for children in one parent families and disadvantaged circumstances” continued Sandra McCullagh of the National Women’s Council. “However, there is action that can be taken in this year’s Budget – An additional allocation of hours under the National Childcare Scheme would acknowledge the challenges a lone parent faces. In addition, parental leave assumes a two-parent family as the norm and so lone parents do not have the same level of support under the scheme as two parent families and this needs to be rectified”
- Recognise and respond effectively to the heightened risk of homelessness and housing insecurity experienced by one parent families
One parent families are disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis, according to Louise Bayliss of Focus Ireland: “We know that one parent families are more likely to experience homelessness, are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to affordability issues and are more vulnerable to housing quality problems such as damp and lack of central heating. Homelessness is devastating for families – it causes trauma and can do life-long damage to the health and well-being of children and parents. Budget 2022 must recognise the unique needs of one parent families and include targeted and real measures to help them. We are calling for the establishment of a specific taskforce to review the impact of housing insecurity on one parent families and develop appropriate solutions”.
- Reduce child poverty by decoupling child maintenance from social protection payments
“Structural issues in our child maintenance system are leaving one parent families at greater risk of poverty and we are eagerly awaiting the recommendations of the Child Maintenance Review Group”, continued Louise Bayliss. “However, changes can be made now to how the Department of Social Protection (DSP) treats child maintenance which would increase its poverty reduction impact. Child Maintenance should be fully decoupled from social protection payments and be treated as a non-means-tested, non-taxable income for children, as with Child Benefit, to support one parent families out of poverty.”
- Provide sustainable routes out of poverty by facilitating access to education and training
“Lone parents face multiple barriers to accessing education and worryingly, lone parents’ participation in education has actually decreased in recent years”, continued Tricia Keilthy. The SUSI grant scheme is an integral support but restrictions in accessing it exclude many lone parents. We are calling for SUSI to be made available to all lone parents engaging in education regardless of the age of their youngest child, irrespective of their housing tenure or whether they are studying part time or full time so that lone parents can be truly supported to access further education”
About the National One Parent Family Alliance
The National One Parent Family Alliance comprises nine national organisations including Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, One Family, FLAC, Focus Ireland, National Women’s Council, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, SPARK, and Treoir. This Alliance was established in 2020 in response to the unequal impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on one-parent families and a shared concern about the high levels of poverty experienced by lone parents and their children.
NOPFA pre-budget priorities can be seen here: LINK
The following spokespersons are available for interview:
Karen Kiernan, One Family – 086 8509191
Tricia Keilthy, SVP – 086 4109302
Sandra McCullagh, NWC – 087 7404891
Louise Bayliss, Focus Ireland – 086 061 2060
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Trading as One Family, Cherish CLG is a company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, registered in Dublin, Ireland with registered office at 8 Coke Lane, Dublin 7 and registered Company Number 45364. One Family is also a charity (Charity Regulatory Authority No. 20012212 and Charity No. 6525).
Directors of One Family: Helen Hall, Jennifer Good, Nuala Haughey, Rosemary Wokocha, Donagh McGowan , Eimear Fisher, John Bohan and Jack Eustace.