Wednesday, October 3, 2012


One of the few ‘right’ things we did as a country during the boom years was to take a few steps towards valuing, in a real way, the work of caring for children in this country.

Back in 1992 debate began around the provision of childcare in Ireland for families where both parents worked.  The Commission for the Status of Women recommended that there should be a tax relief for the payment of childcare for working parents.  However that immediately led to parents who cared for their own children in the home feeling (rightly) discriminated against.

By 2000 we were also discussing child poverty and in the end it was felt that an increase in the universal child benefit scheme was the best way of addressing all of these concerns.

So parents in Ireland although not getting tax relief for childcare were paid what looks like a generous children’s allowance which could offset some of the cost of childcare while equally recognising the work of the army, of mainly women, who stay at home to care for their children themselves.  This seems to have been somewhat forgotten about although an excellent opinion piece by Evelyn Mahon intoday’s Irish Times goes some way to correcting our absentmindedness on the subject.

We all are familiar with that old cliché that we live in a society not an economy.  This is one area where that cliché is worth fighting for. 

Regularly we talk of how we lost ourselves completely in the excesses of Celtic Tiger Ireland; we got ideas above our station and lost our values completely.  Some of that may be true but in the midst of all the material madness we did one right thing.  We said that the work of caring for children has a value.  We recognised that value and we went a little way towards compensating the carers for that work.

That work has lost none of its intrinsic value.  Children are our future and our country’s greatest asset. 

Almost a century ago the Proclamation of the Irish Republic stated this new Republic’s aim of “cherishing all the children of the nation equally.”  We are only now getting around to beginning doing something about that as we prepare to amend our Constitution to include children’s rights.    

Isn’t it then ironic that at the very same time our Government are considering once again taking away the only value that has ever been given to the work of caring for children?  Talking out of both sides of their mouth?

Well hear this Minister Burton – Get Your Hands Off Our Children’s Allowance.  Let’s shout it loud and clear.  Our children are depending on us.

If you want your voice heard you could start by signing this petition


  1. A woman after my own heart! You write at your kitchen table too Barbara! As someone who was on a very low income for a long time, I just want to say childrens' shoes money.

    1. Excellent and so well said!! I and a few others have been saying leave our child benefit a lobe for a long time now and I contuniue to do so. I am a member of PACUB and we need more help to help get the message heard come join us :)

  2. Absolutely agree Barbara - Pity article 42 of the constitution is just lip service - makes it even more insukting that not having it there at all. And who do we expect to pay pensions in 20 - odd years time? Oh yes, our kids!

    1. Just heard Barbara speaking today on Radio 1 Seemed to speak so much sense, so just had to "google" her and came across this reference to Children's Allowance, My understanding of the situation was that when they withdrew the tax free allowance for children they increased the Child Benefit. Child Benefit is a payment that is given specifically to mothers as it is felt they will spend it on the children appropriately.

  3. Very well written, Barbara. If that doesn't inspire people to sign the petition, nothing will. Well done

  4. I have a question. A family earning (say) €1,000,000 per year gets the same children's allowance as a family on €40,000 per year. The high earners can easily get by without the allowance, but the lower earners can't. Why should the high earners should receive the same children's allowance as the low earners?

    If we continue to insist on Children's Allowance being the same regardless of household income, then we have the grotesque situation whereby in order to reach budget targets the allowance would have to be reduced across the board. This only has the effect of hitting poorer families.

    Until you can explain to me why a millionaire receives an allowance, then I see no reason why it shouldn't be means-tested.

  5. Hmmm. Didn't see any followers. Perhaps I scrolled too fast. Nevertheless --- GREETINGS, EARTHLING!! While I can only stay in this existence finite for a while (gotta run back to the Elysian Fields soon), take anything and everything you wanna from our wonderfull, plethora-of-thot to write the next, great masterpeace -if- I can but kiss your gorgeous, adorable feets and/or cohesively cuddle withe greatest, ex-mortal-girly-ever to arrive in Seventh Heaven!! Think about it. Do it! Get back with me Upstairs, k? God bless you, doll: pleasure-beyond-measure is waiting in the Great Beyond for you and eye. Love you proFUSEly, girl (the name of Lenin’s newspaper, the FUSE - he went to Heaven; Stalin, however, went in the opposite direction even with Jesus’ beckoning. How do I know? A hardcore, Catholic friend of mine had a vision). Thus, if you can read-between-the-lines, the musical term MORENDO means ‘dying-away in tone-and-time’. How very apropos for U.S. …


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