Carlow/Kilkenny Fine Gael TD Kathleen Funchion
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children and TD for Carlow Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has welcomed Dr Laura Bambrick of the Irish Congress Trade Union (ICTU) call for childcare to be an essential public service.
“Sinn Féin have long advocated for a publicly funded childcare sector. My 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’s raised in her interview this morning on Morning Ireland, unfortunately for those, either working or using an early years’ service – are not new.
“The Minister cannot continue to ignore calls by academics, unions, those working in the sector, who are underpaid and underappreciated and parents who are face outrageous childcare fees any more.
“I have consistently called for a complete overhaul of the sector, yet what we get is again and again is reviews, which I believe are an attempt 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, take on the wages, increasing them 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 supportive and seen by his cabinet colleagues as vital for the economy," she added.
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