An Irish government minister has claimed working mums will have to give up their jobs and look after their children if they want mortgage debt relief under a new scheme.
Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar has caused a stir with his comments ahead of the introduction of new insolvency legislation in Ireland.
Varadkar has told reporters that family income has to be balanced against their outgoing bills before any insolvency arrangement can be agreed by creditors.
And he warned that working mums may have quit their jobs if the cost of childcare is prohibitive.
Minister Varadkar said: “I know one or two women who probably don’t make very much money at all from working, but they do it to keep their position on the career ladder, if you like, and that is a legitimate thing to do.
“But if you can’t pay your mortgage as a result, or buy your groceries as a result, then that is something that needs to be taken into account in any insolvency arrangement”.
Opposition leaders and women’s groups have slammed the Minister after he claimed his comments were made in the interest of ‘fair play’.
Varadkar added: “The situation with the insolvency regime is we have to be as fair as we can with everyone.
“That means being fair to the 88 per cent or 90 per cent of people who are paying their mortgages and are paying their debts and they, like a lot of people, are making very big sacrifices.
“As I understand, asking people to give up their jobs would only pertain to a case where childcare bills exceed what they’re making but I don’t know how many are in that position.
“If somebody is in that position, where it is costing them money to work and they can’t pay their mortgage, that it something that needs to be taken into account in any insolvency regime.”
The new legislation requires those applying for personal insolvency to go through their personal finances with an insolvency practitioner who would help plan how to meet their obligations including household bills and mortgages according to the Irish Independent.
The Minister continued: “It may mean a family with two cars who have access to public transport maybe don’t need two cars any more.”
The Varadkar comments are in stark contrast to recent claims by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on the issue.
Kenny told the Irish parliament that the new rules would ‘in no way determine that a person would have to give up work’.