Myers in trouble

It was only a matter of time before a journalist as outspoken as Kevin Myers trod on more toes than he could manage and it looks like his reference in an Irishman’s Diary in the Irish Times Tuesday (subs needed) to single parents as “mothers of bastards” could be the toe too far, especially as this was the edition being sent free to Ireland’s schools. He even manages to resurrect the term “unmarried mothers” from its grave.Myers was reacting to comments by Dr Ed Walsh that children brought up by a single parent do not fare as well in society as children with two-parent families.

“And how many girls, and we’re talking largely about teenagers here, conciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accomodation from the State? Ah. You don’t like the term bastard? No, I didn’t think you would. In the welfare-land of Euphemisia, what is the correct term for the offspring of unmarried mothers?

He continues, using the acronym “MoB”:

“And how do MoB’s cope when their male bastards (in the literal sense) become metaphorical bastards in adolescence? How does a woman assert her will over a sour, aggressive, uncommunicative boy? Well she usually doesn’t – a study of the parental backgrounds of gang members in London and New York – where they are ahead of us on these matters – will tell you. Mob members usually stressed out Mobs for mothers and absent FoBs for dads.”

Mr. Myers neglects to mention that he has his facts all wrong as today nearly a third of children in the Irish Republic are born outside of marriage, and only 1 in 8 of those to women aged 19 or under.

Compounding his inaccurate “largely teenagers” comment is his implication that the parents of a third of Ireland’s children born in 2004 are the social equivalent of New York gang members, who apparently know all about children outside of marriage .

That’s before taking into account that only 1.2% of unmarried mothers are under the age of 16 according to second quarter 2004 CSO figures.