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11th Feb 2016

6 Questions to Ask That Election Candidate on Your Doorstep

Katie Mythen-Lynch

You know the drill. It’s 7pm, you’re up to your elbows in bath time or homework or laundry and suddenly the doorbell rings. 

With the election looming on February 26, each and every candidate and canvasser will have their sales pitch perfected, practiced and ready to go. The thing to remember before you close the door on them (or hide behind the curtains) is that this is not their moment in the spotlight, this is your time to have your say on all the issues that affect you and your family every day.

It’s your doorstep. Own it.

Here are six questions to have ready: 

1. The Repeal of the 8th Amendment

One of the key issues in this year’s election, the 8th Amendment gives equal right to the life of the mother and the unborn in the Constitution, effectively making abortion illegal. The latest Newstalk/Red C poll shows that the majority of people are in favour of making changes to the amendment, with 48 per cent saying it should be removed entirely from the constitution.

What to ask: What are your views on repealing the 8th amendment?

2. Childcare

This is a key issue in this election, with Labour already pledging to reduce the cost of childcare cost to €2 an hour. Perhaps more realistically, Early Childhood Ireland is campaigning for affordable childcare for all and professional wages (more than the average €10.27 per hour) for people who work in Ireland’s creches. In any case, half of all of women in Ireland with two or more children never re-enter the workforce, most citing the main issues affecting childcare here: affordability, accessibility and quality.

What to ask: Election gimmicks aside, what is your plan for subsidised childcare?  How will your party invest in it?

3. Maternity Services and Benefit

Remember in 2013 when they started taxing maternity benefit? And in 2014 when they reduced it by €32? Yeah. Mention that. Sinn Féin is promising to correct this, adding a six-week extension to maternity leave into the bargain and bumping parental leave up to 52 weeks.

What to ask: How does Maternity Leave benefit factor into your plans? How will your plan improve things for women who become pregnant in Ireland?

4. Primary Schools 

According to Barnardos, it would cost just €103 million to give every child in Ireland a free primary education, including free school books, doing away with voluntary contributions and restoring funding to schools cut since 2010.

What to ask: Will your party make Ireland’s primary school system genuinely free by investing an extra €103m? 

5. Religion

The UN has slammed Ireland’s ‘discriminatory admissions policies’. The lack of non-denominational schools for children is a worsening problem.

What to ask: What does your party plan to do to increase the availability of non-denominational schools? 

6. The Housing Crisis

The housing crisis has left many children living in unsuitable, overcrowded and precarious homes, many others are homeless. Rent controls – such as linking rent increases to the Consumer Price Index – and an increase in rent supplement rates are needed in the short term. In the long term the State must create more social housing.

What to askHow do you plan to tackle the housing crisis?

MORE: Is this the Election promise of every parent’s dreams?