Ireland should move to a publicly-funded system of childcare over the next ten years, a Citizens' Assembly has said.
The Assembly released their Report on Gender Equality earlier this week.
It contains a wide range of recommendations - from a call to eliminate the gender pay gap by 2035, to a proposal for gender quotas in general elections to be extended to other elections (including local, European and Seanad votes).
One of its major recommendations is for a move to a public-funded form of early years and ‘out of hours’ childcare over the next decade.
That would mean almost tripling the annual percentage of GDP spent on childcare from 0.37% to 1%.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Catherine Day - chairperson of the Assembly - said some measures they’ve recommended can be introduced quickly.
However, others - including the proposals around childcare - will mean a complete transformation in Ireland's approach that will take years to achieve.
She said: “As most parents know, childcare in Ireland is quite expensive. The average Irish two-parent family pays twice as much as the average mainland European - and we’re a bit of an outlier, in that we have a private sector delivered childcare.
“In most European countries, it’s publicly funded… so our members were very interested in that, and felt it was the responsibility of the State to provide childcare.”
The Assembly report also contains proposals on increasing the uptake of parental leave.
Dr Day explained: “Research shows that usually the higher earner is the man in a two-gender family… the take-up by fathers [of parental leave] on the whole is much less than by mothers.
“The Assembly wanted a higher rate of pay while both parents are on parental leave, to ensure there’s take-up by fathers as well as mothers.”