I ’m having a rant. I haven’t had one in a while and I feel that this topic justifies a good, old-fashioned, honest to Derek style rant.
Now, I want to preface this rant with a little note of clarity. While I may be referencing fathers/dads a lot in the rant, the points easily apply to mothers/mums. Moreso the gender specific titles can easily be swapped around and the points still ring true. But the reason I am going on about it from a dad perspective is because, well, I’m not the mum of the family 🙂
Also I will be taking pop shots at Regina Doherty.
So, let’s set the scene. Ireland is a grand country to live in and bring up a family in, but sadly a lot of what governs Ireland is stuck in the 1960s and hasn’t moved on at all. Parental Leave is one such thing. For a long time dads were entitled to very little in terms of parental leave when their little bundles of joy arrived. You got three days, unpaid, and that was it.
Which is fantastic, right? Because who wants to spend more than three days at home with their kid?
Some people, like myself, would save holidays through the nine-months as best they could and book time off. You know why, because some people, like myself, actually wanted to be around and help (or to use the actual term: parent properly) with the newborn. Because, you know what, some people, like myself, are not still in that 1960s mindset of what a father is to their significant other after a child is born.
We aren’t all sitting in the pub next door to the hospital sipping brandy and smoking cigars while slapping ourselves on the back for a job well done. We’re in the delivery room, hand holding, motivating, encouraging, calming the mother as she has a slight panic over a machine in the corner that went beep for the first time in seventeen hours (it was low on battery). Fathers have moved on, Ireland has not.
Now, I’m a certified asshole. I’ve no issues saying that, it is who I am and I like that about me. So when Olivia was coming along I just happened to get a promotion in work. Part of my new deal was that I told my boss I wanted a once off additional five days annual leave. He was surprised at the ballsy ask, but agreed because he knew what I was going to be using them for.
When Thomas came along I was in a new job and I was lucky. The three days unpaid thing had been changed to two weeks paid by the government and your employer could voluntarily decided to top up the difference in salary. My employer is one who strives to build a good culture and part of their policy around parental leave for dads is you get the top up.
But Derek, I don’t here you say, what is this preamble leading to in terms of a rant?
Well, let me tell you, it is leading to the fact that an elected official, Regina Doherty, is an out and out sexist idiot who sits in her ivory tower and dictates to the world without any basis in reality.
Recent statistics (which, let’s be honest, are 90% made up on the spot. 5 out of 3 people know that) suggest that only 40% of working dads avail of parental leave. The reason being that as the main bread-winner, or the one with the bigger salary, the other 60% cannot afford to take parental leave. This isn’t to say they aren’t taking their own holidays, time off that their employer legally has to pay them full rate, it is just saying that they aren’t taking the two weeks of parental leave the government allows for.
Two weeks that the dad would receive 245 euro a week for. 245 euro that their employer does not have to top up, by law, if they don’t want to. Some may top up to a percentage of the difference, others may go the whole amount, some may just smile and say enjoy the time off. The reality is there is 60% of the workforce out there that may not work in a company, like I currently do, which is in the position, or wants to be in the position, to add to the father’s weekly wage during paternity leave.
Regina Doherty’s solution to this? Extend the leave by an additional two weeks parental. Now you can get two more weeks off as a new, or returning if it is an additional nipper into your house of fun, dad at 245 euro a week.
The additional weeks will, in Doherty’s own words, ‘help incentivise fathers to take more time off work to care for their children’.
Listen up Regina, it isn’t the time that’s the problem. It is the stark reality that living in Ireland is not cheap.
When she announced the new parental leave rules, Mrs. Doherty took a shot at dads the land over by saying they needed to stop using excuses and start stepping up to the plate.
Spoiler warning, swear words coming.
Regina you can fuck right the fuck off with your bullshit. Once again parenthood has moved on from the 1960s, dads are not all useless slobs these days (some are, but that’s a different rant) and actually are parenting the children along with their partners. The thing is if mum isn’t the big earner, then dad has to go back to work pretty quick to continue to pay for the little luxuries in life like food in fridge, power and heating, a roof over the family head. Ireland sucks in terms of pay roles lets be honest. In most cases it will be the male who is the bigger earner so that leaves no choice but for parental leave to fall to the mum. The government should look at tackling that shit before telling me I am not stepping up to the plate.
I know a dad, great guy, comedian fellow, who was the lower earner in his relationship. He quit his job so his wife could go back to work and he would be at home with the kids. If the same situation had been true for myself I’d have done it in a heartbeat. There are no excuses being made here, there is the cold hard facts of how expensive it is to live in Ireland.
Saying people need to ‘step up’ and take four weeks reduced pay is insulting.
CSO figures for 2018 said that the average rent for a place in Dublin was 1,683 euro per month. For possible the first time in Irish history rent and mortgage repayments are on par. It is not cheaper to rent than is to buy and it is just as hard to buy as it is to rent. So, dear old useless dad, please do step up and bring home 245 a week for a month, and and no monthly take home pay from your job, and ensure that you are still covering all the costs of keeping a roof over your head.
This is not even taking into account that some families will have a kid in creche. More costs to cover, with your government hand out. Whether you use the creche space or not you still gotta pay for it to keep it.
This isn’t the first time Doherty has made such grand and sweeping statements, but it is the first time she has been so blatantly sexist about what she said and as an elected official she needs to be held accountable for her words. Her sexist statements are bordering on gender hate speech. We live in a world now where that sort of thing isn’t just unacceptable, it is disgusting. “I have said that we need to have a conversation in this country around gender roles.” She is right, but the way she went about it is the equivalent of saying ‘I’m not racist, but…’
To make matters even funnier, when she was questioned about how insulting her comments were she doubled down on the stupidity. Honestly, you can’t make this shit up.
It is time that those in government get out of the tower and actually understand what is going on. Why might only 40% of fathers take the parental leave? Well because if they did they would be living hand to mouth. Considering how much tax I pay, and get very little back for such a huge chunk of change, I feel the government could give more back to working parents than they currently do.
I’ve never been a supporter of Fine Gael from a political standpoint. I’ve always found them to just be as bad as any other politician. In it for themselves and only wanting power and cash. But anybody who supports Regina Doherty is just as closed-minded and sexist as she is. And yes, women can be sexist. You know why? Because the world has moved on now and everyone is meant to be treated equally.