SPONSORED: Kathleen Funchion TD: ‘I want to help with housing, cut the cost of childcare and peg the pension age’
Kathleen Funchion sees policy priorities at both ends of the age scale. The Sinn Féin TD wants to peg the State pension age back to 65 and, if re-elected in Carlow-Kilkenny, intends to work for a big reduction in child-care costs.
“Sinn Féin wants to reduce childcare costs by up to 66% over a term of government,” she says. “We want to keep the pension age at 65 and make anyone earning €30,000 or less exempt from USC.”
Attracting and retaining childcare workers is a major problem for the sector where pay is poor. Kathleen Funchion, who has worked as a child minder, believes Sinn Fein’s policy to raise low incomes will be a help.
“We want to introduce a wage scale, starting at the living wage, and this has to be funded publicly,” she explains.
Housing is another key issue for the TD. “It has gone beyond crisis,” she says. “And that’s not just for those waiting on social housing. There are serious issues around affordability and trying to obtain a mortgage while paying high rent.”
Her aim, and her party’s aim, will be to deliver a lot more social and affordable housing and introduce a rent freeze.
“We want to see tax relief for renters,” she says. “Affordable housing is key as not everyone will qualify for social housing.”
Kathleen (pictured above with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and her sons Finn and Emmet) was born in Callan and moved back there six years ago with her two sons. “I grew up in Callan and, as my dad is from New York, we spent a number of summers with family there,” she explains.
She has a first-class honours degree in social science and has held a variety of jobs outside of politics. She worked as a child minder, in a book shop and at a call centre before taking a position with SIPTU. While working with the union, she completed a post grad on employment law.
She was elected to Kilkenny Borough Council in 2009, its first Sinn Féin representative since 1923, and took her Dáil seat in the election of 2016.
Kathleen is passionate about Sinn Féin and its policies.“
“We need Sinn Féin representation,” she says. “We have already seen the negative impact of not having SF at local level – property tax was increased straight away by the maximum amount possible.”
She believes the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency has not been well served by the Government. “The issues that came up in 2016 are still the issues today but they are far far worse now.
“I have always worked hard and honestly with individuals, communities and, since being elected to the Dáil, I have highlighted and campaigned about many issues around health, housing, child-care and children with additional needs.”
Being a hard-working politician and a mother, doesn’t leave Kathleen a lot of spare time.
When she does relax she likes to read crime fiction. “Lego and Hitchcock or old black and white movies, and anything Harry Potter related,” she also lists among her hobbies.
If she could wave a Harry Potter wand and change the Government, she would. But she hopes the voters will do that job on February 8.
“I have a good track record and have always stood up for people,” she says. “The problems of our country and this constituency will be far worse if we have four more years of FF and FG. We badly need a total change in government.”