Sinn Féin calls for new agency to punish people not paying child maintenance

The Child Maintenance Service would help separated parents decide how much maintenance should be paid

Sinn Féin calls for new agency to punish people not paying child maintenance

Sinn Féin TD John Brady. Photo:

Parents who refuse to pay child maintenance could face jail terms under new plans from Sinn Féin.

They are calling for a Child Maintenance Service that could take the payment out of someone's wages or social welfare.

It's a bid to support lone parent families who get no contribution from the other parent.

In cases of domestic abuse or where someone refuses to pay child maintenance, the body would step in and have powers to take the payment from someone's wages.

Powers would also be given to bailiffs to collect arrears or seize payments, while convictions could be used 'as a last resort'.

Sinn Féin TD John Brady says the service would mediate between couples to decide what levels of maintenance should be provided.

He said: "Children in lone parent families are substantially higher in terms of their risk to poverty.

"We see consistent poverty levels nearly double those of two parent families, and we see children at risk of poverty."

On the party's new proposal, he observed: “This will be a free service available to lone parents and will assist them in a range of different ways from providing basic information and advice, to calculating maintenance, collecting maintenance payments and transferring payments to the lone parent."

Additional reporting by Stephen McNeice