Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.47 14 Oct 2020


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The National Women's Council says the Government needs decisive action, not reviews, to deliver a public model of childcare.

It says it needs to be seen as a critical and essential public service.

It comes as the council says no additional investment was made into delivering such a model in Tuesday's budget.

It says COVID-19 exposed how crucial childcare is for the functioning of our society and economy, and that it is "an essential public service".

Orla O'Connor is the director of National Women's Council.

She told Newstalk Breakfast: "Clearly yesterday's budget - it was absolutely for an extraordinary time and it was a response to COVID.

"When we look at the crisis, we've learnt things about childcare in this country.

"We've seen how absolutely critical it is: when crèche is closed, when earlier service is closed, frontline workers were at an enormous loss in terms of not being able to have that.

"And also I think we really saw in the crisis how much we rely on grandparents to pick up so much of the childcare in Ireland - and that that put an enormous pressure on families.

"We also saw the need for the Government to step in and to pay the wages of the childcare workforce.

"So in our view responding to COVID, and responding to the crisis, should have meant a response in relation to childcare.

"And I think as well, as a result of the crisis, we need to have a different conversation about childcare - because we need to see it in that frame of it being a critical and essential public service.

"And that's certainly what all of the members of the Women's Council who've been contacting us over the last number of months are really saying".

Low results

"The reason given why childcare wasn't addressed yesterday is that the department and the Government have decided to have this comprehensive review."

"Childcare is one area of policy that has probably had more reviews, more taskforces, more committees than most policy areas - and has probably led to the least in terms of results.

"What needs to happen now is decisive action by the Government in terms of the direction that they're going in in relation to childcare.

"They don't need to do anymore comprehensive reviews".

"We are hopeful in that the demand is certainly there from parents, from members, from the services that are providing childcare.

"One of the biggest changes over the past number of years I think is the coming together of the childcare workforce.

"The fact is the majority of them are women, they are so underpaid, so much of their pay is similar to the minimum wage.

"I think there is a much stronger and powerful campaigning lobby now to really get that public service that we want.

"Part of the issue with this is we know that this will take time, so it's going to take leadership from the minister to be prepared to stick it out - and not just to be trying to get the win in one year or to try to deliver things in one year."

Budget 2021: Childcare should be seen as 'critical and essential public service'

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Main image: A young girl playing with multi-coloured building blocks. Picture by: Geoff Kirby/EMPICS Entertainment

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Budget 2021 Childcare National Women's Council Orla O'Connor Public Model Of Childcare

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