Councilor Danny Healy-Rae told a meeting of the council that he receives "calls on a daily basis from single men and separated fathers" who "cannot accommodate their children" because they live in "unsuitable accommodation."
The meeting heard that there are currently 362 men on the housing waiting list in Kerry, 172 of whom are aged between 35 and 55 years. Healy-Rae said he wanted to make the county council aware of the fact and stated that the situation "is very sad because children are only small once.”
He called on Kerry County Council to rethink their approach in allocating accommodation to single and separated fathers.
"In most cases, the children stay with their mothers and go to their fathers for a number of days," he said. "Men can't accommodate their children when they want to come to them. It is hard on the fathers, but especially hard on the children."
Healy-Rae said that most single or separated fathers do not qualify for rent allowance and that "Kerry county should do everything possible to accommodate these people.”
"I had a fellow last week crying on the phone. In legal separations, most of the time, the wife gets custody and the family home. I would ask the council to try and look at it in a fairer light," he said.
"I am not castigating Kerry County Council in any way but they have to look at their approach to housing single fathers from the point of view of the children."
Steep school costs
Children and teenagers in Kildare and around the country may well be enjoying their summer holidays, but hard-pressed parents are already starting to count the cost of sending them back to school.
In the past week, the Irish League of Credit Unions, which has almost three million members nationwide, including thousands in Kildare, issued the results of a survey on back-to-school costs.
It concluded that this year, a typical family will spend approximately €320 on each primary level child, with back-to-school expenditure for a second-level student amounting to around €470.
The survey showed that many parents believe that second-level schools in particular are not sufficiently aware of the need to help parents cut costs in respect of uniforms and books.
Voluntary contributions, averaging €158 for second-level pupils and €102 for those in primary school, were another contentious issue, with many parents pointing out that payment of these contributions was not really “voluntary” and that they added to the financial burden.
A large number of parents surveyed came out in favor of the use of computer technology, including laptops and e-books in the classroom, on the basis that it would cut down on the cost of books.
The survey highlighted the difficulty experienced by many families in dealing with the expenses involved in sending children to school. While almost half (46%) of parents said they could meet back-to-school expenses out of regular monthly income, the remaining 54% are forced to dip into savings, seek help or borrow.
Around one-fifth of parents qualify for the government’s back to school allowance, but the majority of these say the grant is inadequate. Others borrow from the credit union or use credit cards.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the survey is that almost two-thirds of all parents admitted that back-to-school expenses would have a negative impact on family activities and paying other bills.
Around 7% said they would have difficulty paying other domestic bills, while a further 7% said they would be forced to forego or delay a credit card payment, incurring additional interest charges.
The Irish League of Credit Unions is encouraging members to plan for back to school expenses, seek out the best possible value and talk to credit union staff if they are experiencing difficulties in the run-up to September.