Subsiding stay at home parents would not be ‘fair’ to those that work, Ciara Kelly has said.
Speaking at a Law Society debate this week on the March referendums, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he has an “open mind” about introducing new supports for those parents who decide to stay at home and look after their children.
“I’d certainly examine with an open mind any supports we can give to parents who are in the home," he told the audience.
"I would definitely look at that with an open mind. I think we need to do more there.”
It is, Ciara told Newstalk Breakfast listeners, a “very interesting” idea – but it could see hardworking people subsidising those who choose to stay at home for their own reasons.
“There are a huge number of people listening to us this morning who are in cars, who are in kitchens, who are getting ready, trying to juggle their kids, trying to juggle their lives [and] have two jobs,” she said.
“Both parents are working because their mortgage and their bills are predicated on both parents working.
“Those parents will be the parents who will be asked to have some of their tax go towards people where, maybe, one parent can afford to stay at home.
“Generally, that decision is made in terms of affordability; there are tons of people who would like to stay at home, who can’t stay at home because they can’t afford it.
“They would like to at least be at home for the first couple of years when their kids are small but they can’t afford it.
“I think that’s an issue of fairness.”
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) February 2, 2024
Ciara also questioned whether the policy could do significant damage to the economy.
“I’m not sure the State can afford another tranche of social welfare parents,” she said.
“I’m not sure workers can afford to support more and more people who are not workers - I think it’s a tricky one in terms of affordability.
“The last thing is, there are lots of people who would like to stay at home, this might give some of them a chance to do that.
"Which sounds great in theory but then we’ve just lost a huge tranche of our workforce - I’m not sure what that would do to the economy.”
Co-presenter Shane said he would be a “bit more open minded” to subsidising stay at home parents.
He also thought it could prove very popular, recalling how his father voted Fine Gael in 1981 because they promised to provide housewives with an allowance.
“Affordability is always an issue and we do have to look at that,” he said.
“Some people think there is a machine printing money out there - there isn’t.
“If we’re subsidising childcare, why wouldn’t you support people who have opted to stay at home?
“You mentioned those parents who are frantically juggling everything and get kids out the door while they go off to work, maybe some of those parents would like to have the option?”
In 2023, there were an estimated 1,225,738 children living in Ireland - or 23% of the population.
Main image: Ciara Kelly. 02/02/2024. Picture by: Newstalk