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Ireland Votes No to Narrow Definition of the Family at UN Human Rights Council

One Family is disappointed about the narrow definition of family contained in Resolution A/HRC/26/L.20/Rev.1 that was passed at the UN recently, especially in this year of the 20th anniversary of International Year of the Family, but welcomes that Ireland voted NO.  Previous UN resolutions on the family include language, agreed by all States, that recognised that “various forms of the family exist”.

At the 38th Meeting, 26th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Patricia O’Brien – Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations at Geneva – said: “Families can form an important framework for the promotion of human rights, particularly of family members themselves. … for policies to be successful they should also be inclusive. If family is a living dynamic entity and can take many forms, we believe that we must all recognise this diversity, and indeed we have done so consistently over many years in many UN resolutions which recognise that in different cultural, political and social systems various forms of the family exist. We regret that the Resolution before us today fails to take account of the various forms of families which are a vital part of all of our society. For these reasons we will vote no.”

A video clip of the Ambassador’s presentation can be viewed here (scroll to no. 18 on the right). The results of the vote were: ADOPTED (26 YES / 14 NO / 06 ABSTENTIONS).

Organisations including Eurochild, of which One Family is a member, issued this statement:

Discussion of “protection of the family” at Human Rights Council must reflect diversity and focus on human rights

Our organizations, representing a wide range of civil society from all regions of the world, urge the UN Human Rights Council to ensure the Panel discussion entitled “protection of the family” scheduled to take place in September reflects the diversity of family forms and includes a focus on the promotion and protection of human rights of individuals within the family unit.

The decision to hold the Panel came in a resolution passed on 26 June 2014, as a result of the deeply flawed “protection of the family” initiative led by Egypt and other States at the UN Human Rights Council … Click to continue reading the Statement in full.





Childcare Report Reveals Barriers for Parents Returning to Work

An economic report revealing that the cost of childcare in Ireland is creating a barrier for parents who want to return to work, commissioned by the Donegal County Childcare Committee and conducted by Indecon International Economic Consultancy Group, was launched today by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald.  The independent nationwide report, entitled Supporting Working Families – Releasing a Brake on Economic Growth, examines potential policy options to address the childcare obstacles that exist as a barrier to employment.

Key findings include:

  • Annual Cost of Fulltime Childcare for Two-Child Family is €16,500
  • Barriers to employment as a result of childcare costs are severe among lower income groups, with 56% prevented from looking for a job
  • 26% of parents were prevented from returning to work or training because of childcare arrangements
  • Ireland has second highest childcare costs in OECD as a percentage of average wages

One Family attended the launch today with our Director of Policy & Programmes, Stuart Duffin, responding:

 “Finally a report that asserts childcare is a fundamental of economic policy and a service which underpins community economic development and growth. Access to quality childcare has major impacts on child poverty and on families’ quality of life more generally. We need to aim to encourage debate about the correct level of support childcare and how it is funded through a whole of government  social investment.”

Government is charged to commit to protecting childcare spaces in both the short and long term, for families in transition and particularly for those parenting alone. For low-income parents, lack of access to quality and affordable childcare is a fundamental challenge to participation in the labour market[i]. Any loss of funding puts at risk the availability of community based care for children where families need it.  Consequently, parents’ ability to work is jeopardised which subsequently makes vulnerable the entire childcare system and ultimately the economy as a whole. In the short term, enabling investment through tax credits and incentives must be committed to providing mechanisms and means to keep crèches intact. In the longer term, we must work together to secure the integrity and sustainability of the childcare system.

A clear pathway needs to be agreed on how to go to a tax based system from the current arrangement of FIS CETS and CCS  as we see hard pressed working families struggling with childcare cost. Therefore we need to support access to good quality childcare through in-work supports. Currently, the danger is that the employment subsidy part of FIS (the income disregard) acts as a perverse incentive for lone parents and makes the cost of childcare unreachable.

Lone parents transitioning from social assistance to waged work should not be penalised and should gain financial benefit from this move. The “work incentives” currently in place as well as the continuing erosion of income disregards do not support parents entering the labour market[ii].

Government must initiate and commit to supports for low-income families to ensure they receive (tax) credits and assistance aimed at improving incomes, for example the Family Income Supplement. In-work assistance initiatives and supports improve the incomes of low-income families (and in particular those parenting alone). They are vital tools in engineering financial independence and mitigate the impact of increasing costs of taking up employment. Government must ensure that it pays to work: the cornerstone of the Government’s welfare to work strategy and future practice.

Currently, the tax and benefit system is unfair and traps people in poverty and unemployment. It is not possible to reform the system as it currently stands. It may be possible to reduce some of the worst aspects by tinkering with starting rates of tax and benefit tapers, but the inherent inequality in the way that tax-payers and benefits recipients are treated will remain. Policy-makers and politicians must take this opportunity to consider a total reconfiguring of the tax and benefits system. Without this, it is impossible to imagine that any changes will do more than transform an awful system into a bad one.

[i] EuroChild, (2012), Overall assessment of the SPC advisory report to the EC on “Tackling and preventing child poverty, promoting child well-being” & suggestions for future actions

[ii] ESRI,(2012), Budget Perspectives, Tax, Welfare and Work Incentives