26 Jun 2022

Offaly politician blasts current childcare system

John Leahy

Renua leader and Offaly County Councillor John Leahy

RENUA Ireland leader John Leahy has warned, "we need a massive injection of real cash rather than pilot schemes if we are to create a childcare system that is fit for purpose for working people."

The Offaly councillor Leahy was commenting on the declaration by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone that she had secured €19 million in extra supports for Childcare.

SEE ALSO: Funding announced for extra childcare places in Offaly

The minister claimed the number of children joining existing government care schemes is six times higher than this time last year, with 3,000 signing up this July compared to 500 in 2016 and that this was a small step towards a better future.

Mr Leahy, however, said, "The minister’s announcement is a case of pretending that no news is big news. When it comes to childcare we need a big bang approach as distinct to small steps."

"Childcare in Ireland is the long term Cinderella of Irish education," he quipped.

"A single grant of €1,040 per year does not cut it for working parents. It is the appearance of reform rather than real reform," he added.

RENUA Ireland respects the motives and intent of Ms Zappone. "We also entirely agree with and empathise with her desire to not drop down the cabinet pecking order," Leahy said. 

"We are concerned though that she is the prisoner of ideological forces. Put bluntly the minister has shown insufficient determination to deal with the battles working families face."

"Middle class families are as entitled to child care support as those on welfare. Until Ms Zappone recognises this she does not have our confidence," Leahy claimed. 

"In that regard it is encouraging that the Taoiseach has indicated he wants increased investment in childcare for middle income earners too. We agree that government policy should focus on moving people from lower income to middle income," the Offaly man continued. 

"Hopefully he can convince his minister or at least teach her the economic facts of life on childcare. In that regard RENUA Ireland believes investment of a billion per annum is required to build an effective childcare system," Leahy concluded.

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