Offaly county councillor Ken Smollen

This morning.

Offaly county councillor and chair of the Irish Democratic Party Ken Smollen, who runs a food delivery service for impoverished families, received the following message from a Laois mum whose identity he is protecting on Facebook

“Hi Ken I am very sorry to message and ask could you please please help me anyway you can with food, I am a single mother with a baby almost a year old.

“I’m private renting at the moment.. I’m paying 180 of my 234.50 a week on rent, and the remaining 54.50 goes between formula baby food nappies and electric.

“My child’s father is supposed to pay €20 maintenance a week, I’ve never seen a cent of it. At present I haven’t eaten more than a slice of stale bread and a tin of soup myself in three days.

“I will go without to make sure my daughter can eat. Anyway if you could please help me any way you could I’d be very very grateful.

“It is eating me having to message you to ask but I can’t ask anyone else. SVP told me this week they can’t help me until September as they take holidays for all of August over here.

“I see you visited Laois yesterday so I hope you wouldn’t see it too far to be able to help me any way possible. Thanks very much.”

Earlier: The First Steps

Ken Smollen (Facebook)

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41 thoughts on “Food Poor

    1. Niamh

      Landlords can refuse HAP, I think? If you’re refused a tenancy due to being on HAP over and over I can see why you’d have no choice but to go private for the time being.

      1. eoin

        Looking at the average rent (€846) and the max HAP (€580) and the fact that you could expect to pay more than average in areas of Laois like Portlaoise, I can see the problem. It’s poverty alright but at its root, it’s the housing crisis.

        1. Joe Small

          That would be €66 a week she would be obliged to pay – a lot less that she is paying now. I’d guess the €180 a week (€780 a month) she’s currently paying now is in the absence of HAP. If she can manage to secure HAP in her present accommodation that would be just €46 a week rent out her own pocket. That’s an extra €134 a week she has to look after her and her child. That’s not comfortable but it would be a huge improvement to her present situation. Something isn’t right there at the moment.

  1. Whatevers

    €20 maintenance a week off the absent father, who doesn’t even bother to pay.
    as if 20 a week would get you far trying to feed and clothe a child in the first place.

    About time these lads had this money garnished from their dole, that’ll zip up their mickeys quick enough

    1. B9 Com From No

      Why do you lay blame for this solely at the feet of men?

      Last time I checked it took a male and female components of a zygote to create a baby they can’t afford to feed

      1. Col

        She is paying to raise the child. He is not. The blame lies solely at the feet of the man in this case, clearly.

      2. Whatevers

        Because he’s the only one of the two parents not contributing or putting in a shift, you dope.

          1. B9 Com From No

            it’s a dreadful system we have millie

            in France, like Lush was saying, and other countries there is a state childcare system so women can live independently of deadbeats AND they get a fast track legal response where appropriate for taking maintenance

          2. ReproBertie

            She’s skipping meals to provide for the child and you’re trying to argue that maybe he can’t afford to give her €20 a week for his child?

          3. B9 Com From No

            I’m not trying to argue anything bertie, I’m saying it’s one of a number of possibilities

            given I have personal experience of these types of matters I am pretty confident that I am correct, but it’s only a guess, if other facts emerge I will make a different guess

            I don’t stick to absurd talking points like a non-existing WA in the absence of other reliable and clear evidence, unlike, say, the way you do.

            thanks for the insults earlier too and well done BS for deletion

          4. ReproBertie

            You are trying to excuse his non-support of his child by offering up excuses on his behalf yet you were happy to blame her for not having a wealthier man get her pregnant.

            I didn’t insult you. I said your now deleted comment was incredibly stupid and I stand by that.

          5. B9 Com From No

            You are trying to excuse his non-support of his child
            – false

            by offering up excuses on his behalf
            – false

            yet you were happy to blame her for not having a wealthier man get her pregnant.
            – also false

            I didn’t insult you.

            I said your now deleted comment was incredibly stupid and I stand by that.
            – Fair play in fairness. Hope they delete it again.

          6. ReproBertie

            Just saying “false” won’t make it so. For example you say that “You are trying to excuse his non-support of his child” is false but you also say “maybe he can’t afford to” which is an attempt to excuse his non-support of his child.

            I didn’t insult you. What I said was “What an incredibly stupid thing to say. You need to go have a chat with yourself”. Where’s the insult?

            You’d need to post your comment again for them to delete it again and aren’t you lucky they deleted it so that you can deny every saying it.

      3. some old unicorn

        In this case the blame is squarely at the father’s feet B9- the child is 50% his responsibility. It reminds me of the old saying- any boy can father a child but it takes a man to rear one.

        I meat a girl recently- lone parent with two kids- three months after the second was born he walked out and never even said he was going- not one cent since- absolute scumbag.

        1. B9 Com From No

          If it’s 50% then it’s both their responsibility – that’s what I was saying.

          I didn’t say he wasn’t responsible, I said they both are.

          I also said he’s not solely responsible.

          In this case here he may not be able to afford to pay anything

          Amazingly our system allows this in practical terms

      4. Rose Marie Byrne

        Not at the feet of men, but at the feet of this man! He should have it taken directly from his wages or Social Protection payment. however this won’t solve all her problems. The local authorities have for too long failed in their duty to provide housing. Ah yes it’s their duty!

      1. B9 Com From No

        He could be on the dole. Deadbeats can argue here that they need an amount of money in order to live.
        I have personal experience of this.

        In theory though yes she can apply for an instalment order. The thing is that alienating the kid from their father is not always a road a mother wants to go down. Perhaps mistakenly but still..

        Anyway, better not to get pregnant with a loser in the first place …

          1. B9 Com From No

            it isn’t Niamh

            in practical terms though that’s not the way it’s made to look to the kids though

            it’s such a grave responsibility – parenting

            It’s also a joint one

            I found whatevers comment tediously one-sided

            he/she/whatevers he is have resorted to name-calling and insults rather than a discussion, but that’s the internet for you

  2. kellyma

    How grim. 20eur a week to provide for his child. Unblelievable. The man probably smokes more…..

  3. Mr.Fart

    that’s awful to hear, i hope she finds the support she needs. asides from survival, the kid will be denied things like birthday/xmas presents etc. I’m currently living alone, with a decent wage and no GF, if perhaps the Councilor could mail me a pic of the woman, and maybe after that her and the baby could live with me.

          1. millie vanilly strikes again


            I think you enjoy getting the wind up certain folk here. So do I, in fairness.

  4. Joe Small

    Aside from practical food assistance, she should be helped with checking her welfare entitlements. I’m sure she would be entitled to HAP. One parent family payment with a child under 12 is €237 a week. I presume she is also claiming children’s allowance at €140 per month.
    An exceptional needs payment may be payable under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme

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