Sinn Féin spokesperson for Employment Affairs & Social Protection John Brady TD has welcomed comments made by Minister Doherty suggesting that it is time to explore the possibility of establishing a statutory child maintenance service, something Sinn Féin have consistently raised.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Brady said:
“I welcome comments made by Minister Doherty this week which signals her willingness to examine establishing a statutory child maintenance agency to ensure ‘fairness and efficiency’ as she described it.
“Currently, a parent who seeks maintenance from an ex-partner is left at the mercy of the courts without any support or assistance.
“This process can take months and even when a maintenance order is granted, there is no guarantee that it will ever actually be paid, yet it is taken as household means and reduces other social welfare payments.
“This discourages lone parents from seeking it in the first place however, to receive certain social welfare supports, they are obliged to seek maintenance.
“In January 2018 Sinn Féin published proposals on establishing a Child Maintenance Service based on the model in place in the North of Ireland.
“We have consistently urged Minister Doherty and her Department to engage with key stakeholders and the Department of Justice & Equality on exploring this.
“Court is not the place for child maintenance to be discussed and decided upon at the discretion of the judge of the day. It is a totally inappropriate environment for lone parents and it simply does not work.
“I have contacted Minister Doherty to seek her plans to progress exploring a statutory maintenance service, if her comments are genuine.
“We need to take child maintenance out of the courts and establish a service that finally supports and assists lone parents, as is the norm in many other countries.”