[Sinn Fein]

23 May 1997

Crowe criticises PD attack on lone parents

Sinn Fein Candidate for Dublin South West Seán Crowe today criticised the leader of the Progressive Democrats Mary Harney, for her attack on lone parents.

Mr. Crowe said:

``Mary Harney's announcement of proposed new measures to ``encourage'' lone parents to live with their families is a disgraceful attempt to bring us back to an era which we had hoped was long behind us.

``Sinn Fein recognises the importance of the family unit in modern society. We also recognise that in Ireland and throughout Europe the family unit is evolving and more and more people are parenting alone.

``The stereotypical definition of lone parents is usually a very narrow one: young women subsisting on Social Welfare and living in deprived areas. These young women are often targeted by parties such as the Progressive Democrats as dependent and in some way a drain on state resources. The reality is that people parenting alone cover all social and economic classes and are in that situation for a variety of reasons. Some have escaped violent relationships, others are widowed, yet more have been deserted. All are parents attempting to raise their children to the best of their ability. To target the most disadvantaged of parents is a cop-out. Governments must take responsibility for poverty, unemployment and social deprivation.

``There is an official culture of ignoring social problems and dumping them in ghettoes. With no state provisions for childcare, how are lone parents meant to get back to work when they cannot afford a child minder and are trapped in a vicious circle of dependency ?

``Sinn Fein believes that tackling poverty and disadvantage is the answer to tackling social problems. All families deserve a decent standard of living and equal opportunities for their members.

``People parenting alone deserve support and respect. The structure of families is changing in a modern world, shaped by economic and political forces. Official policy must work to respect those changes and support all family units.'' ENDS

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