When I first heard that people were being paid as much as €300 to cover the cost of their children’s communion ceremonies, I thought it was a joke.
What? At a time when some families can’t afford coal for their fires, the Social Welfare is paying others to get spray tans for their big fat seven-year-old princesses?
Could this be for real?
Well, unfortunately, the answer is Yes. It is, and the practice exists mostly in Dublin, though the payments are not specifically designated for communions. These are exceptional needs payments, where the definition of both need and exceptional rest with the officials examining the applications. We’ll come back to this.
The Irish Times has an interesting report , with good solid figures which emerged from a review of last year’s payments.
In 2011, €3.4 million was paid out to people for religious occasions, which means dressing up their kids, doing their hair, spray-tanning them and getting pissed.
Dublin has the most claims. 5,616 families got money to help with their exceptional needs, receiving an average of €303 each.
By way of comparison, 1,944 families in the south-east got an average of €213.
1,546 familes scored €194 in the mid-west, while 1,334 princesses were created in the north-east at an average cost of €189.
1,282 payments in the south averaged €217, while 1,131 lucky Brides of Christ in the west got €219.
In the midlands, 1,093 little wedding dresses cost the State €196 each, while the north-west claimed only 25 grants, at €223 each.
Think about that now. In a country whose constitution explicitly outlaws endowing any religion, we paid €3.4 million to people because some public officials think an extravagant display at a religious ceremony is an exceptional need, not an outrageous demand, but why stop with communions? Why not have exceptional needs grants for kids who desperately need a bungee-jumping experience in New Zealand? Or kids who need singing lessons to get on the X-Factor? Or kids who desperately need a set of decks to make them the best DJ who ever lived? There are parents who would consider these things just as essential as a Holy Communion dress, so why do we discriminate between one and the other?
We now live in a society where the biggest crime is telling the children they can’t have something. Why? Because nobody wants to be the adult anymore. Nobody wants to take responsibility for telling children the most beneficial word they’ll ever learn in their entire lives: NO.
Entire tracts of society have abdicated responsibility for parenting and either forget, or don’t understand, that indulging a child’s every whim is not support but abuse.
Guess what? You might wish for something but that doesn’t make you entitled to get it. I’m sorry that your kids will be disappointed they can’t have a stretch limo or a hair-do or a spray tan, but who gave them those expectations? If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. That’s the reality for all of us, so get used to it.
The more I think about it, the more insane this story becomes. Certain public officials decided that a fancy communion celebration is a need, and maybe it’s time for a major readjustment. I’m very happy to see the State protecting people from poverty, illness and oppression. I think a civilised society provides its children with a proper education. But I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to be protecting people from their delusions, which include the idea that what they want is what they need.
It’s time to get real. A Holy Communion celebration is not an exceptional need but an expensive extravagance.
If you can afford it, good luck to you, but don’t expect me to pay for it.