Stanley raises difficulties of returning Irish emigrants and single parents in Dáil

Express Reporter

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Single parents in Laois are in 'desperate poverty' over housing crisis says councillor

Sinn Féin TD, Brian Stanley, has raised the difficulties experienced by returning Irish emigrants, women pensioners and lone parents in the Dáil this week.

The Laois TD has said that the welfare system is difficult for returning Irish emigrants to access.

"Some people who were born, educated and worked here and were forced to emigrate to seek employment in the 1970s, 1980s or another time are now back.

"In many cases, they are elderly and in bad health and cannot claim a social welfare payment, or they find it extremely difficult to claim one.

"For this group, the bar is raised very high. The habitual residency clause is used and the affected individuals have to establish where their centre of interest is, their employment history, the length and continuity of their residence in Ireland, the continuity of their residence in another country, and their future intentions," Deputy Stanley said.

He also raised the difficulties caused by new PRSI requirements for state pension entitlements. This has left some women in a position where they either have a reduced pension or none at all.

“A number of cases came in to my constituency office concerning women who left the workforce for a time to have children and whose pension entitlements were reduced. These changes, made by former Labour Minister, Joan Burton, discriminate against women and penalise them.

"There was also a marriage bar in the public sector for married women and they were forced out of work and lost some pension entitlements. Thankfully those days are gone but we need to deal with the pension issue.

Deputy Stanley praised lone parents who survive on €220 a week.

“There is a lot of huffing and puffing and false information about single parents. Any parent who runs a house on €220 a week, gets a child to school - in particular if he or she is attending secondary school and needs shoes, books, uniforms etc - and is able to keep a roof over their heads is doing well. People are paying top-ups for private rented accommodation because we don’t have rent controls, in particular in the constituency I represent. 

"We need to re-examine the income disregard for lone parents returning to work in order to encourage them back in to the workforce. Regarding the reduction in the cut-off age to 7 years during Joan Burton’s term of office, a seven-year old child is not old enough to look after himself or herself, regardless of what subsidies are available. 

"This age limit also poses difficulties for the 14 or 15 weeks of the year when schools are closed. Some lone parents could have two or three children to look after and are struggling to manage those situations.

“We should make it easier for people to get back to work and try to give them adequate child care support to enable them to do so," he added.