Lone parents to protest at plans to reduce allowance

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Amanda Keane with some of the hundreds of signatures she has collected in protest at the planned cuts to the One Parent Family Payment which come into force next month. Picture: Adrian Butler
A DEMONSTRATION is to take place this Wednesday afternoon in protest at plans to cut the lone parent allowance.

A DEMONSTRATION is to take place this Wednesday afternoon in protest at plans to cut the lone parent allowance.

Lone parents from across Limerick will converge on the social welfare office in Dominic Street today 3.30pm to show their opposition to the cuts to the One Parent Family Payment.

The proposals, due to be introduced on July 2, will see the maximum age lone parents can claim for a child drop from 17 to just seven.

Lone parents will lose between €36.50 and €86 a week under the proposals.

Protest organiser Amanda Keane, 32, who works as a carer, stands to lose €70 per week under the reforms.

The Janesboro lady has collected a petition with more than 600 signatures calling on the government to scrap the cuts.

Asked how it will affect her, the mother-of-two said: “It will mean I will have to work longer hours. I already go out working some evenings in the week, but I will have to find extra hours. With the economy the way it is, it is difficult.”

Amanda caught the public’s imagination on Vincent Browne’s People’s Debate in Rathkeale last month when she repeatedly challenged government backbencher Patrick O’Donovan on whether he thought the cuts to the payment were fair.

“I am lucky in that my family are very good to me. But there are other people out there in my situation who do not have anyone and are now going to have to pay more for childcare,” she explained.

Amanda admits some people have refused to sign the petition, saying she feels there is a false perception of lone parents there.

“I know a lot of lone parents. Some feel they have no right to come out and protest. There is still a stereotype that a lone parent is some young one sitting at home on the couch”.

Amanda has two daughters, Leah, 8, and Sarah, 11, with her partner Stephen, who died six years ago.

As the pair were not married, she does not qualify for a widow’s pension.

“Would you put down a widow,” she asked, “The only difference is I was not married.”

At the same time as the protest in Limerick is taking place, the Single Parents Fighting for the Rights of Kids (SPARKS) group will march to the gates of the Dail.

Amanda arranged the Limerick protest, as she was aware that many lone parents will not have the finances or time to travel to Dublin.

“The government need to take a step back and reconsider what they are doing to lone parents. It is outrageous. It is the genuinely poor lone parents who will suffer,” she concluded.