Aontu leader Peadar Tóibín TD has blasted Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and questioned Fine Gael’s ideology.

The Meath West TD was commenting on findings that show deprivation among lone parents in Ireland is at a far higher rate than deprivation experienced by lone parents in the rest of the EU.

The data, which is from 2017, comes from the Eurostat EU-SILC (Survey on Income and Living Conditions) and shows the percentage of the population that can’t afford items of household expenditure including rent, mortgage and utility bills, home heating and unexpected expenses.

“Leo Varadkar has talked a lot about equality in the last few years,” Deputy Tóibín said.

“But where is the equality for those lone parents who experience massive material deprivation in Ireland?

“According to recent figures 17.9% of Irish lone parents experience deprivation compared to an average of 13.3% in other EU countries.

“Why does Leo Varadkar’s definition of equality not extend beyond the culture wars of the Donnybrook Wine Bar?

“Why does it not extend to mothers and fathers desperately struggling to raise their children in poverty?

“It is very clear that many families are locked out of Leo Varadkar’s Ireland.”

Deputy Tóibín also spoke of the danger of children falling into a poverty trap which becomes impossible to get out of.

“Tens of thousands of families, most especially lone parent families are in poverty and are finding it a struggle to make ends meet,” he said.

“It is abundantly clear that many lone parents and their children have been left behind by the Fine Gael ideology.

“It is critical that these families have the supports necessary to raise their children at key cash pinch points such as the back to school period.

“The government must also tackle the financial stresses that make it so difficult to raise children in this situation.

“If this does not happen school completion becomes more difficult for many children and the pattern of poverty and deprivation continues for the next generation.

“The government must also ensure that fathers of children fulfil their financial responsibilities to their children and have fair access to their children.

“As a state and as a people, our policies need to be fully child-focused.”