Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children Kathleen Funchion TD has welcomed Dr Laura Bambrick of the Irish Congress Trade Union (ICTU) for calling on government to deliver childcare as an essential public service.
Teachta Funchion said:
“Sinn Féin have long advocated for a publicly funded childcare sector. Our position has always been to take a three-pronged approach to address low wages, high fees and access to childcare places.
“The issues Dr Bambrick raised on Morning Ireland today are, unfortunately for those either working or using an early years’ service, not new.
“The Minister can no longer ignore calls by academics, unions, those working in the sector, who are underpaid and underappreciated, and parents who are facing outrageous childcare fees.
“I have consistently called for a complete overhaul of the sector. Yet what we get again and again is reviews, which are just attempts to kick the can down the road.
“Successive governments, by their inability or unwillingness to seriously fund this sector, have done the greatest disservice to women in this state.
“Dr Bambrick makes the direct correlation between Ireland having the lowest number of women in the workforce, as a direct result of underinvestment in early years. A staggering one-third of women with children are not working outside the home.
“I strongly believe it is completely disingenuous for the state to continue to encourage women into the workforce, yet the apparatus that should be there to support this transition is wholly inadequate.
“In 2020, I proposed a fully costed alternative budget that prioritised children’s right to an early years education, enshrined lower fees for parents, reducing by one-third in the first year and two-thirds in the second year, increased wages immediately to at least the Living Wage and ensured a viable future for service providers with a sustainability fund of approximately €125million.
“There is a moral obligation on the Minister to ensure this sector is supported and seen by his cabinet colleagues as vital for the economy.”