Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Properly funded public services needed for gender equality measures

Pringle: Properly funded public services needed for gender equality measures

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said Government must stop the constant privatisation of public services, as he called for properly funded and accessible childcare.

Deputy Pringle addressed the Dáil on Wednesday evening during statements on the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality. He called the recommendations, “a stark reminder of how far we have to go to ensure gender equality in this country.

“It’s clear from reading these recommendations that we will never have a gender equal society until big, institutional changes are made. That’s the simple fact,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said proper funding of public services would address most of the recommendations.

The deputy said: “This is, again, an argument of ideology. This government’s pro-market thinking of ‘the private market will provide’ is extremely flawed. It is not good enough to just expect that the private sector will fulfill the public’s needs. The government is elected to provide the public with the services that they require.

“They are not elected to allocate this responsibility elsewhere and for there then to be no accountability when things go wrong. We need to stop the constant privatisation of our services,” he said.

Deputy Pringle noted that the report’s recommendations include the need to establish “a publicly funded, accessible and regulated model of childcare”. He said the fact that Ireland is one of the world’s most expensive countries for childcare, “is nothing to be proud of”.

He said: “There is no way that we can empower women or create a gender equal society without addressing this fact.”

Deputy Pringle said he also supported the report’s call to extend gender quotas to local, Seanad and European elections, but said he believed they should also include quotas for women from ethnic minorities and women with disabilities.

He said: “I would love to see this parliament as a true reflection of our society and its make-up. Sadly, that is not the case at the moment, and we need to give all the support necessary to ensure this.

“We need to consider the reasons that women don’t get involved in politics and take real steps to change that,” he said, calling it “an absolute disgrace” that elected representatives do not get maternity leave. He commended Senator Eileen Flynn “for taking a stand for all women who are not given their maternity leave, and indeed the Minister for Justice as well, in taking time off for this”.

He said he supported the call for constitutional changes, for stronger enforcement of laws and policies, for the appointment of a Victims/Survivors Commissioner and for the development of guidelines and specialist training for judges and lawyers regarding the treatment of victims and survivors. He said language in the Constitution should not be gender-specific and should oblige the State to take measures to support care in the home.

“Again, this can only be achieved by proper funding of public services,” he said, repeating the report’s call for better public services and improved social protection.

Deputy Pringle concluded: “Privatisation takes away the opportunity for proper government accountability for public spending and it’s clear that gender equality cannot be achieved without addressing this fact first.”

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