Employers need to fit working hours around the busy lives of post-boom families to help save communities, a leading sociologist claimed today.
Fr Harry Bohan believes that Ireland’s decade-long prosperity has battered the traditional family structure and it needs to be supported to flourish again.
“We need to organise work around families. It will be a huge task but it could save society as we know it,” said Fr Bohan.
The parish priest of Sixmilebridge, Co Clare added: “Parents tell me they have to work to make a living but they feel so guilty they are not seeing enough of their children.”
Fr Bohan was speaking before he opens the 10th annual Ceifin conference in Co Clare on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The event features guest speakers including Northern Ireland Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, Garda Chief Inspector Kathleen O’Toole and the Catholic Bishop of Limerick, Dónal Murray.
The theme, Tracking the Tiger – A Decade of Change will also host contributions from Professor Tom Collins, head of education at NUI Maynooth and Mary Kealy, chief executive for the Brothers of Charity Services in Co Clare. Guest chairpersons include RTÉ broadcasters like Rachael English.
The Ceifin organisation has charity status and runs publications and seminars aimed at encouraging debate for values-led change in Irish society.
At last year’s event, Fr Bohan claimed Irish people had become obsessed with greed, gossip and shopping.
He said today: “We have no experience in our history of dealing with the challenges that come after an economic boom.
“We don’t even have a language to articulate what we feel in that situation.”
Fr Bohan claimed that only 20% of families living in Dublin are the tradition model of married parents with children living under the same roof.
“Only two generations ago, it took a whole community to rear a child. Teenagers now spend less than 5% of their time with their parents. Teenagers don’t learn from their parents, only their friends and outside influences like celebrities.”
He added: “We live in a culture of suspicion. We wonder who is telling the truth and who isn’t. Trust has to be earned, not conferred.”