Child Care: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 3 November 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 591 No. 4

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Ó Caoláin on Tuesday, 2 November 2004:

[1152]—noting that

—over five years since the publication of the national child care strategy, child care provision is still, in the words of the strategy, “uncoordinated, variable in quality and in short supply”;

—the Government’s failure to ensure comprehensive child care provision, has negative consequences for children, women, families, society and the economy;

—the complete of lack of adequate child care, including pre-school, after school and out of school child care, continues to restrict the participation of parents of young children, particularly women, in the workforce, education and training, as confirmed by the OECD thematic review of early childhood education and care policy in Ireland;

—delivery of child care places and improved infrastructure under the equal opportunities child care programme has been subject to long delays due to the protracted review of funding by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform;

—there is an urgent need to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for child care provision up to and beyond the completion of the equal opportunities child care programme in 2006; and

—the development of quality child care is self financing through increased tax returns from women’s work and less dependency on social security.

—affirms that the State shall have the following goals, which the Government shall work to achieve within a definite timeframe to:

—enable all parents to reconcile their child care needs with participation in the labour force, education and training;

—enable all parents to exercise their choice to care for their children full-time up to one year of age;

—enable all parents to access affordable child care for their children;

—establish universal State provision of pre-school for all children from the age of three to five years; and

—establish universal provision of early childhood care and education based on the Swedish system.

[1153]—and calls on the Government, in the interim, to:

—harmonise maternity leave on an all-Ireland basis by increasing maternity leave to 26 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid;

—increase maternity benefit to 80% of earnings immediately;

—harmonise paternity leave on an all-Ireland basis by introducing paid paternity entitlements of two weeks per child;

—increase adoptive leave to 24 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid;

—introduce paid parental leave and legislate without further delay to implement the terms agreed in respect of parental leave under the Sustaining Progress agreement;

—assist parents with the cost of child care by increasing child benefit to €150 per month for the first and second child and to €185.50 for third and subsequent children and by increasing child dependent allowance to a single weekly figure of €26 for all recipients;

—introduce a child care supplement to be paid as a top-up for child benefit for under fives;

—increase revenue for the equal opportunities child care programme, including capital, staffing and operational funding and immediately expedite all outstanding applications which have been delayed due to the review of the programme;

—reinstate the crèche supplement and the VTOS child care supports, the cutting of which have caused severe hardship to parents and children in disadvantaged communities;

—raise awareness of and increase funding for the childminders’ grant scheme;

—review the “Childcare Facilities: Guidelines for Planning Authorities” to assess effectiveness of the guidelines and investigate the possibility of introducing legislation in line with Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to require developers to construct child care facilities in housing developments and to transfer these to the ownership of the local authority upon completion; and

—bring forward legislation to effectively address the need for employers to [1154]share responsibility for provision of child care for their employees.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

—the considerable progress which has been achieved in the implementation of the recommendations of the national child care strategy over the past five years, through the equal opportunities child care programme and other Government initiatives;

—that each county of Ireland has already benefited considerably from an increase in the provision of child care places through the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 and that the programme is already ahead of target in this regard;

—the increased provision in capital funding following the mid-term review of the EOCP for the community based not for profit child care sector to develop new child care facilities;

—the positive impact that the availability of these new places is having on the parents of Ireland and their children;

—the many positive comments of the OECD in relation to child care in Ireland, the development of which has been made a priority by the Government;

—that increased female participation is being encouraged through a range of measures, including family-friendly working arrangements, child care provision and changes to the tax and benefit systems;

—complete implementation by way of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 of improvements to maternity leave entitlements recommended by the maternity review group;

—immediate implementation in March 2001 of increased periods of maternity leave as recommended by the maternity review group and the application of the same increases to adoptive leave;

—Government’s policy on the development of child care which offers [1155]parents in employment, education and training a range of choices with regard to the availability of quality child care at local level;

—Government’s policy in relation to the provision of appropriate pre-school education in areas of social deprivation and for those with special needs to help combat disadvantage and promote education;

—making further provision to enhance adoptive leave entitlements in the Adoptive Leave Bill 2004 currently before Dáil Éireann;

—implementing improvements to parental leave in accordance with the commitment made in the Sustaining Progress partnership agreement by way of a Bill to be published during the current Dáil session;

—supporting the early start scheme which funds centres that aim to expose children from disadvantaged areas, aged three to four years, to a positive pre-school environment to improve their overall development and long-term educational experience and performance;

—establishing the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, CECDE, by the Department of Education and Science in October 2002 to develop, within a three year period, a quality framework for early childhood education and to develop, through active research with existing programmes, targeted interventions for children who have special needs or who are disadvantaged;

—the provision of funding to vocational education committees to assist towards the child care expenses of participants in vocational training opportunities schemes, Youthreach and senior Traveller training centres to facilitate the attendance on certain further education programmes of people for whom they were designed but who are precluded from availing themselves due to their child care responsibilities;

—the Government’s commitment to restoring maternity benefit to 80% of reckonable earnings from its current level of 70% as recently agreed at the mid-term review of part two of Sustaining Progress and the commitment to implement the measure over the lifetime of the agreement;

[1156]—the Government’s continued use of child benefit as the main instrument through which support is provided for parents;

—the commitment of the Government to the child benefit scheme is reflected in the significant resources invested in the child benefit scheme since 2001 where the combined child benefit-child dependant allowance payment has increased by more than double the rate of inflation;

—the Government’s commitment to taxation measures which favour the supply of child care places;

—the equal opportunities child care programme, including the need to increase capital funding to the programme to sustain the dynamic which has developed at local level through which community groups and private providers are prepared to establish and manage child care facilities; and

Mr. Curran: Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  I wish to share time with Deputies O’Donovan, Finneran, McGuinness, O’Connor and Andrews.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock): Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Curran: Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  I welcome the opportunity to debate the issue of child care. I support the amended motion fully. The original motion, which was tabled by Deputies from the Sinn Féin Party, fails to acknowledge any of the Government’s many developments and achievements in respect of child care since 1997. I will outline some of the developments in the short time available to me.

I acknowledge the Government’s support for the development of privately owned child care facilities, for example by making capital tax incentives available for expenditure on the construction of a building for use as a child care facility. I understand that a tax incentive is also available for expenditure on the conversion of existing buildings to child care facilities. It should be noted that employees who avail of free or subsidised child care facilities provided by employers are exempt from benefit in kind charges in that regard. I understand that this exemption was introduced in the Finance Act 1997.

  [1157]7 o’clock

There has been a significant level of increase in child benefit payments in recent years. The monthly payment currently stands at over €131 for each of the first two children and at over €165 for third and subsequent children. It should be noted that the rate of increase of the payment has been far in excess of the rate of inflation and, as such, is enjoyed by parents as a real and significant increase.

I do not have enough time to discuss all the research which was conducted in this area, for example by expert working groups, before the equal opportunities child care programme was finalised. It should be acknowledged that the work of such groups has resulted in a comprehensive programme. The main objectives of the programme, which was launched as part of the national development plan, were to improve the quality of child care, to increase the number of child care facilities and places and to introduce a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of child care services. The funding which has been made available through the programme is a clear demonstration of the Government’s commitment to child care. The €317 million which was originally made available under the programme was subsequently increased following transfers from other Departments and the increase in funding which resulted from the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. The total fund over the seven years of the programme now stands at approximately €450 million.

Funding from the equal opportunities child care programme is available to finance different aspects of child care provision. Capital grant assistance is available to create new and enhanced child care facilities and staffing grants are available to assist with the staffing costs of child care facilities which support disadvantaged parents who are in employment. Community based and not-for-profit groups can avail of capital grant assistance of up to 100% and private providers can avail of grant assistance of up to €50,790 towards the cost of developing new facilities. It should be remembered that community based and not-for-profit groups which provide services for disadvantaged families may receive grant assistance towards their staffing costs to enable them to support parents who cannot afford the full cost of child care. The programme has been a great success. Over €220 million has been allocated in capital and staffing grants paid to community based and not-for-profit groups and private providers. It was originally estimated that the programme would create over 28,000 new child care places, but the figure is set to exceed 31,000 following the increase in funding.

The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, asked me early this summer to attend a conference in Áras Chrónáin in Clondalkin. The conference, which focused on child care, involved many community based groups in Clondalkin and Tallaght which provide child care facilities. While there was a wide and far-reaching discussion, the [1158]major concern of most of the contributors to the debate was what will be put in place after the equal opportunities child care programme has finished.

I have outlined many of the Government’s initiatives which have greatly enhanced child care facilities, but I would like to conclude by outlining a concern, which I would like the Minister of State, Deputy Batt O’Keeffe, to pass on to the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Government should examine urgently the policies and programmes which will be put in place when the existing equal opportunities child care programme expires. Those who currently benefit from the programme are entitled to a degree of certainty about policies and future funding. My major concern does not relate to the work we have done to date, but to how we will proceed. I ask the Minister of State to relay my concerns to his colleagues with responsibility for this area.

Mr. O’Donovan: Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  I welcome this debate, which is timely in the run-up to the budget. I compliment Sinn Féin for proposing this motion, which relates to an area of significant importance. The first major child care impetus followed the 1997 general election. The expert working group which was established by the then Minister in July of that year was the catalyst for progress in this area. I acknowledge the significant work which has been done in respect of child care in recent years by the Government and its predecessor, in conjunction with the social partners, whose direct input in this area I note.

When one speaks about child care one normally considers the more populated parts of the country, such as the greater Dublin area, but I wish to be somewhat parochial. I do not agree with those who criticise the Government’s child care policy. I compliment the previous Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O’Donoghue, his successor, Deputy McDowell, and the various Ministers of State with responsibility in this area. I represent a peripheral area which has many peninsulas etc. A group received €269,000 in 2002 to establish a child care facility in the rural village of Ballydehob, which is in the heart of west Cork. Similar funds were allocated to the naíonra on Oileán Chléire and a facility in Coomhola near the Borlin Valley. It is wonderful that such isolated villages are benefiting from the Government’s child care programme.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Paddy Sheehan got them.

Mr. O’Donovan: Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  No, that is why he lost. We are always saying that money is being spent in Dublin, but I wish to stress that funds are being allocated to places such as Bere Island and Castletownbere which are found on peninsulas which are far from places like Dublin. Contrary to what Deputy Curran said, a degree of certainty has been demonstrated in the programme for [1159]Government and the manner in which the equal opportunities childcare programme 2000-2006 has been set out over a period of seven years. The funding which has been allocated is hugely significant when one considers the level of funding available seven or eight years ago. I do not suggest that it is entirely adequate, however. An important point was made in the motion about tax allowances for people who are trying to avail of child care.

It should not be forgotten that a substantial level of child benefits has been provided in the last six or seven years by this Government and its predecessor. As we approach next month’s budget, it is important to note that 2005 will be the second last year of the equal opportunities child care programme and it would be wise to start planning beyond 2006. Deputy Curran was correct to state that while it is fine to point to what we have achieved, a great deal more remains to be done in this area. We are making a great deal of progress in respect of the provision of capital grants for the running of child care facilities. I am pleased, as a Deputy representing Cork South-West, that we are feeling the benefit in our area. It is by no means utopian. We have made great progress, and I would certainly welcome further advances in the area. We are now approaching the budget, a time when various Ministers are looking at the figures and what they will get next year, and I hope the impetus created will be maintained. This debate is topical and very appropriate, and it should be dealt with in a very balanced and fair way. We are gaining ground.

Mr. Finneran: Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  I welcome the Minister of State to the House and the opportunity to make a contribution on the motion. I fully support the amendment tabled by the Minister and Government.

The figures speak for themselves regarding child care and its funding. A budget of €449 million has been provided under the equal opportunities child care programme for 2000-06, and €218 million of that has already been spent. My constituency, particularly my home county of Roscommon, has benefited from almost €4 million of that, and some 34 projects have been funded under the scheme. That is an extraordinary development in child care for a population of 50,000 in County Roscommon. The projects cover all areas of the county, including Ballaghaderreen, Boyle, Roscommon town, Frenchpark and Elphin down to some of our smallest villages. That has been achieved on the basis of moneys provided by Europe and the Government. Of course, there is another side to that coin. I am very pleased that the equal opportunities programme allows spouses, in particular women, to return to work. I could instance some of the housing estates, especially local authority ones, which have some fine community child care facilities that have brought a new breath of activity to stay-[1160]at-home wives. Child care and a homework club have been provided in certain areas. In particular, I mention the Lisnamult local authority estate in Roscommon.

While that has been provided, obviously more remains to be done. My records show that there are five very important applications at present, which I support, namely, Four Mile House, Croghan and Boyle, Tulsk, Elphin for a staffing grant, and Lisacul. All those important proposals are being evaluated by ADM and the Department. They will have a further positive effect on the opportunity for child care in County Roscommon. One must remember that in the 1980s and 1990s we did not have such facilities. It was a black mark on this State at the time. All Governments were to blame that we did not have the foresight to see that close to 50% of the population represented a valuable asset to the workforce. Though in many cases they did great work, and still do, while looking after families at home, it was important that an equal opportunity to work be presented.

This programme is very progressive and I urge that the good work be continued. I assure Deputies that, with the many projects in my county of Roscommon, we are very appreciative of the work done by the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, the present Minister, Deputy McDowell, and the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, who visited the county several times. We greatly appreciated his involvement in the Frenchpark and Elphin community projects.

I will turn to another issue raised, that of Government offices. The Department and the Office of Public Works have a responsibility to provide child care at all Government offices. I am pleased to say that at the Government office in Roscommon we are having child care facilities for 24. That is welcome, but it should be available everywhere.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  It should be here too.

Mr. Finneran: Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  It should not be just in one office but in all Government offices.

I also wish to comment on schools. We have been somewhat negligent in not evaluating the contribution that vacant schools can make to child care, particularly from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. I have no doubt that an arrangement between two Departments on this matter could provide facilities that we do not currently have. There may be issues to do with insurance or ownership, but ultimately it is all about providing facilities for our children. We all have a responsibility, regardless of whether we are State providers in schools or it is through the other system. We have a common responsibility. Ever more people talk about joined-up government, but it is very important that we see it in action. For me, the phrase means compatibility between the work of Departments. That should apply in the sectors where that facility is provided, including local government.

[1161]I compliment and congratulate this and the previous Government, since they are the first which thought it worthwhile to put any money into it or even bring forward a programme. They have provided about 50% of the funding, and I urge them to continue to ensure the funding is there for future staffing and that, if at all possible — I know it is not always so — they support community child care facilities first, which are necessary. In some of the private ones that have been provided and supported, the prices have been beyond some people on housing estates and on low incomes. I support the amendment and compliment the great work of this Government and the last, which initiated this programme.

Mr. McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  This issue was quite evident in the general election campaign of 1997, when all of us canvassing were reminded of the great deficit regarding the provision of child care. Since that election and the investment that has taken place, particularly in the last few years, child care provision has certainly grown, and the number of places available is increasing in the community and private sectors. The success of that investment must be measured by the number of women in particular who are now free from the home at various times to re-enter the workforce and the numbers of those in marginalised communities who have taken the opportunity to return to education and improve their skills in one way or another so that they achieve full-time employment. It has now become a necessity to ensure good child care provision at community level and in the private sector.

The costs have also risen since that time, and it is no harm to reflect on that now. The cost of child care has grown from approximately €150 to €200. It now represents nearly half the wage of someone availing of the facility. For that reason, we need more places in the market and more competition. To that end, we need continued investment. The schemes that currently exist are a work in progress. We must continue the investment that we started and increase its level because of its benefit to the workforce and communities. In my city the Father McGrath centre, for example, availed of a huge grant and is now providing extensive facilities there, adding to the facilities it already has as a family centre. The spin-off from that for families has been substantial.

The three-pronged approach I see taking place with regard to capital provision for the private sector is paying off and we must develop it further. The social affordable element is paying off too and we need to create more spaces and increase the number of places not just in the urban centres, but to fulfil the demand for growth in centres around Kilkenny in Freshford, Thomastown, Kilkenny city centre and in Loughboy where there is a growing urban population. In order to achieve that, the child care committee at county level has prioritised its schemes and has made that submission which is being considered [1162]by the Minister. I would like to see a more immediate roll-out of funding to those schemes so they can begin providing child care within the communities at an early date. There are provisions other than those for child care which have a spin-off effect in the community. The delay between application and the awarding of funds is too great. That needs to be narrowed so we get a more active roll-out of places in a shorter time.

I compliment the IDA which has opened a child care facility in its park in Kilkenny for those who work there. It is proving to be of great benefit to the work force and is attracting new people into the market because, be it a man or woman at home, this child care facility on the doorstep allows the work force to avail of the facility and encourages more people to come to work.

Regarding decentralisation, I am glad that in a recent submission we got a clear indication from Mr. Phil Flynn that the provision of child care facilities around the decentralised offices is essential to part of the roll-out of that scheme. That indicates a so-called joined-up government or a joined-up spend as I would like to see it, and it is essential that we continue in that direction.

We should in some respects follow in the footsteps of Gordon Brown in the British Government when certain tax initiatives were taken. Those involved in paying for child care or employing child minders in certain cases were allowed to make a claim on their personal taxes or credits. We should consider that approach. Because of the substantial costs of child care there is a need to offer those paying it some form of relief. It is good to get them back to the work force, and people also have the opportunity to expand their skills and education, but people must be rewarded in some way because of the amount of money they pay in child care. The most direct way to do that is through the taxation system. I know there is a preference for substantial increases in child benefit, which is a direct way of getting money to that sector, but we must consider those paying out and note that almost half of one person’s wage now goes to pay for child care facilities. That cannot continue. We must give greater value for the money already spent, and on the back of that introduce some tax breaks for those who must pay out that sort of money.

I compliment the Government on the roll-out of the funding and the schemes involved and I encourage them to introduce more of the same as quickly as possible.

Mr. O’Connor: Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  I compliment the Sinn Féin group. I am glad to see the Members here to support their speeches. We appreciate that.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Are they here to support the Minister of State?

Mr. O’Connor: Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  This is a timely and important motion on important issue. Other colleagues have outlined the Government plan so I will not go [1163]into that. I listened carefully to the speeches last night and in particular to that of Deputy Crowe from my constituency. I heard what he said about the projects in Tallaght, which I support. It is important for us to support them. Other colleagues talked of the number of projects in operation. Apart from the number of community projects in Tallaght, we are lucky that there are child care facilities provided by the local council in The Square, and others in the hospital.

I do not want to be flippant in a serious discussion but this discussion is about a lot done and more to do. In congratulating the Minister of State, I know he will not be offended by my saying that. Last week there was much discussion in this Chamber about the so-called Tallaght west report dealing with disadvantaged young people. I am glad some positive aspects emerged from that report. It highlighted the need for child care and for early intervention. The local Deputies in Dublin South-West received a document, An Unsuitable Fit, which is a submission on sustainability of community child care centres in disadvantaged urban areas. It was produced by Partas, of which I am a board member, and the Tallaght Partnership. I hope to have the opportunity later to put on record the points the submission made. It is important that we continue to support community projects in every sustainable way. There are demands for them not only in Dublin South-West and Tallaght.

Mr. Andrews: Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  I welcome the motion tabled by Sinn Féin. Other speakers have talked of the record of the Government in this area, the paths we are on and the reasons this issue has arisen over the past 20 or 30 years. I will avoid referring to the excellent work that the equal opportunities child care programme has carried out in the Dun Laoghaire constituency. In the time that remains to the Sinn Féin Deputies I want them to say how they propose to pay for the extra resources they call for in their motion. It is a part of responsible government to make that clear to people. It would be regressive in the extreme to simply jump up and down and call for an increase in social spending without being able to show from where the matching increases in revenue would come.

I notice from the previous Sinn Féin manifesto that the party wants Irish social spending to meet the EU average. That would mean a doubling of social spending, an increase of about €10 billion to €15 billion. We collect in income tax only about €11 billion to €12 billion so Sinn Féin might tell us tonight how they would raise the extra money. Clearly they cannot do so through borrowing because of the Stability and Growth Pact, unless they are talking of renegotiating that pact if they have the opportunity to go into Government.

The plan may be to raise the money through income tax or corporation tax. One way or another Sinn Féin needs to explain to people that [1164]they are not merely posturing on a platform but have sensible, reasonable policies which they can justify in terms of future revenue. They say they want to increase funding to the level of what they describe as the Swedish model. Again that would mean an increase against GDP. As we all know at this stage, Irish GDP is much greater comparatively per head of population than in other countries because we have such a large level of foreign direct investment. Accordingly that is a very unfair comparison. I hope Sinn Féin will be able to address that when its Deputies get the opportunity to reply.

In the past 30 years, because of the changes which have occurred in our social structure, there is much greater pressure in the child care area. For that reason in particular I am happy that this debate is taking place. It is one of the great challenges which regularly arises in the Dáil and it is an issue we must tackle before we present ourselves again for election in a few years’ time.

Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin: Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  I wish to share my time with my colleague, Deputy McManus. I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate and I commend the motion to the House. In spite of substantial economic growth in recent years, starting and raising a family has become a very difficult choice. Too many people with young children have a very poor quality of life. They try to juggle the competing demands of caring for their children and maintaining a job. Irish society is far from family-friendly and child care provision remains limited.

The traditional pattern, where men were the breadwinners and women worked in the home, has changed radically and for the best. Women today want to use their talents and skills in the wider world as well as raising families. The number of parents raising families on their own has risen dramatically. These parents need child care to be able to work to support their families or to access training and education as a route towards well paid work.

The Labour Party believes that parents are generally best placed to judge what is the best care for their children. Public policy should support and respect those choices by ensuring a family-friendly society and work environment, securing an adequate supply of quality care of different kinds, and guaranteeing and supporting good standards.

This motion refers to crèche care. Such care has been made less accessible and less affordable for many parents on low incomes since the previous Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Deputy Coughlan, abolished the crèche supplement a year ago. Prior to these changes, parents on low incomes could apply for the supplement to help send their children to a crèche. However, since the supplement’s abolition, it is reported that many crèches, particularly those in disadvantaged areas, are experiencing a drop in the number of children attending. The latter is placing many of them under financial pressure. [1165]Many of the children who were sent to crèches when their parents were able to obtain the supplement would have been identified by social workers as having specific needs. Due to the abolition of the supplement by the Government, however, hundreds of children are being denied this type of care and attention.

A previous speaker applauded the Government for funding community based child care. I welcome this development. A great deal of work has been done in this area but many child care facilities are not receiving adequate funding from the Government. I wish to refer to a community-based child care facility with which I am working at present working, namely, Tír na nÓg child care centre in Ballydesmond on the Cork-Kerry border. The centre recently obtained a staffing grant application but it is insufficient. I wish to read a short extract from a letter sent to me and other public representatives by the centre:

One would have to ask if the Government is serious about child care provisions when situations such as that which obtain at Tír na nÓg in Ballydesmond are arising all over the country. How does the Minister respond to this and similar situations? Perhaps when he is replying he will indicate the avenues Tír na nÓg and other community child care centres can pursue in order to obtain funding to retain staff. How can we make such valuable child care facilities financially feasible if the Government does not provide sufficient resources for them? Does this Government expect crèches to resort to voluntary fundraising to make up the shortfall in their budgets. Tír na nÓg recently held a race night to raise money to try to retain the services of a teacher.

Prior to the most recent general election, the Progressive Democrats promised to fund an additional 40,000 child care places but the Government has not provided anywhere near that number. It has cut the crèche supplement, slashed community employment schemes which help serve child care facilities and reduced funding for child care for those on VTOS training programmes. These represent more broken promises from the Government.

I welcome a recent analysis from the ICTU on the cost of child care. It correctly points out that meeting the cost of child care continues to be the [1166]biggest problem facing working parents. Child care costs, at up to €200 per week, are identified as second now only to mortgage payments in terms of parents’ budgeting. An ICTU study of child care in March 2002 found that working parents, particularly working mothers, have difficulties across a wide range of areas. One quarter of all women stated that they had not applied for promotional opportunities because of child-minding responsibilities.

One of the largest barriers to accessing child care is the cost involved. Let us consider someone who earns under €19,000 per year. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has estimated that nearly one third of that income is spent on child care, before rent, mortgage payments or any other bills are paid. A person who earns between €19,000 and €24,000 pays an estimated 21% of their income on child care. ICTU also discovered that 72% of women who work part-time cited child care costs as their reason for doing so. More than 33% of women in the workforce work part-time and are predominantly to be found in the low paid sectors of employment.

Recent surveys of 400 parents were carried out in France, Italy, Denmark and Ireland. Of the vast majority of Irish parents surveyed, 90% of men and 86% of women had never taken parental leave. For many, the fact that parental leave is unpaid is the greatest disadvantage in respect of taking it. The study, which was co-ordinated by Trinity College Dublin, also found that 12% of women always use their annual leave when their child-minding arrangements fall through, a further 12% often use this option and an additional 30% sometimes do so. This means that 54% of parents in the workplace are obliged to use their holidays in order to mind their children.

Another matter to which I wish to refer is early childhood education. At the launch of the OECD report on early childhood education yesterday, the Minister of State, Deputy de Valera, stated that while significant strengths exist in these areas in Ireland, this country falls behind other countries in a number of key areas. She added that these issues are of enormous importance to Irish society. Does the Minister agree with the Minister of State’s assertion? The OECD report found that just 4% of three-year olds have received publicly funded pre-school education in Ireland. This compares with over 90% in other European countries. Does the Minister accept that Ireland has fallen far behind in this area in recent years, despite the existence of the Celtic tiger?

I spoke during the debate on the maternity protection legislation on the issue of child care and parental leave. I stated that maternity leave is not afforded to Deputies and highlighted the fact that there is no crèche in Leinster House. Politics is not a family-friendly business. It is shameful that 2004, despite proposals for a crèche in Leinster House which have been circulating for many years, there is still no sign of one being provided. Women representatives with children need the [1167]full support of a partner who is willing to spend more time at home with the children. This is made even more difficult for those female Deputies who live outside Dublin. It is clear that much work needs to be done on this issue within the Dáil.

The Oireachtas should be setting an example, leading the way as an employer and not dragging its heels. If the onus of responsibility for child care were placed on many of my male colleagues, and had it lain on the shoulders of their predecessors, we would have a first-class crèche and respect for parental rights in Leinster House.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I welcome the debate and the Labour Party supports the motion, as proposed by Sinn Féin. It is a pity the Government refuses to do likewise.

The care of our children should be a central issue for society. The quality of child care determines the health and well-being of an entire generation. It is scandalous that it has been sidelined and ignored for so long. A clearly funded child care policy based on the principle of the rights of children to care, security and opportunity and the right of parents to make arrangements of choice as to how best to provide such care for their children is needed.

Traditionally, as other Members have stated, child care was work done by women in the home. Its value was never properly acknowledged and its benefits were taken for granted. The experience of women in Ireland has changed dramatically in recent years. The labour force increased by 570,000 between 1993 and 2003 and, of that number, 52% was accounted for by women. The trend is shifting downwards and surveys show that parents, mainly women, are leaving the workforce because of the cost of child care. While the rate of participation of women had been 50.7%, it had reduced to 49.4% by May 2004.

A Government would be foolish to ignore what is happening. The contribution made by women in the labour force has been acknowledged as a major factor in the success of the tiger economy, yet despite this transformation care for children is still seen as primarily a woman’s responsibility and the political responsibility for child care is fragmented and largely emasculated as a consequence. Who is responsible for funding child care overall and ensuring policy development? We have an amiable and hardworking Minister of State with responsibility for children, Deputy Brian Lenihan, but with all due respects to him, he is a junior Minister dealing with a policy that extends across many Departments, which is too unwieldy to achieve coherence or provide an opportunity for a clearly funded and comprehensive child care infrastructure and policy.

The Minister of State with responsibility for the elderly, Deputy Sean Power, is present and earlier the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government [1168]sat in on the debate. Both are excellent Ministers of State but their presence indicates where child care figures in the great scheme of things when it comes to the Government.

The 2002 OECD review of early childhood education and care policy identified the deficiencies in policy and funding and made proposals to address them. The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, referred to a new group chaired by the Children’s Office but this does not resolve the problem of who pays as the funding sources are still split and no plans are in place to reach the Barcelona targets. It is not clear how we get from here to there. By 2010 90% of children between three years and mandatory school age, and at least 33% of children under three years of age should be provided with child care.

Quality child care is particularly beneficial to the thousands of children living in areas of severe disadvantage. Child care provides an opportunity for parents to take up work and it provides children with developmental opportunities and a practical boost to their life chances, which far outweighs State investment in child care centres in communities. The recent groundbreaking report on west Tallaght highlighted the disturbing fact that in a community that has 3,000 children of pre-school age, there was only 300 pre-school places.

I represent a constituency that is both rural and urban. Recently I visited a community play group in Tinahealy in south Wicklow. It has been providing an excellent service for years in a mixed community where children are treated equally and given a good opportunity in life. However, because the group does not fit the measure required by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, which is to release women into the workforce while ensuring their children are cared for, it has been refused funding. I urge the Minister of State to re-examine the value of such community play groups to ensure children do not lose out because a narrow view is taken on child care where it is provided.

Last night, the Minister of State said that the quarterly household survey 2002 on child care showed that the majority of households were happy with their current arrangements, but that is not the case as it found that 45% of parents of pre-school children were not availing of their desired alternative to informal care because of financial considerations. A total of 33.6% said the option was not available to them. The option cited by parents were crèches or early educational facilities, preferably on a workplace basis. There was less dissatisfaction with school age child care, which is understandable, but this also raises the possibility that it masks a substantial level of self-care for the older child. That issue needs to be investigated further.

The system of unregulated child care keeps the level of quality down as there is no notification or monitoring other than voluntary regulation for childminders and none for school age child care. [1169]This means we will never be able to introduce full Garda vetting of child care personnel, as proposed by the Minister a few weeks ago, or a tax credit system because we are dealing with the informal economy. Since childminding is mostly done by women, are we saying, as a society, that such women should not have the benefits of health cover or pension contributions?

I refer to an issue of concern to service providers. The Government is committed in its amendment to taxation measures to promote supply. The case has been strongly made by the National Children’s Nurseries Association and others that the current system of accelerated capital tax allowances is not working. It was expected to assist service provision by attracting investment into the sector. However, property developers are building child care centres with no regard to quality of the premises to simply comply with planning requirements. They get the benefits of the tax allowances while at the same time renting or leasing the premises to the child care providers at the going commercial rate. This has a knock-on effect on the cost of the local authority rates charged to the service providers. This spiral can add €300 to the annual cost of each child care place. Rates relief, for example, would be a more practical and effective way to assist child care provision. I recall in a Finance Act a number of years ago rates relief was granted for the constituency offices of Members. It should be possible to make similar provision for child care providers.

A number of essential issues need to be addressed in child care policy. The funding issue is significantly important both for parents and support providers. However, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has highlighted other issues, which include flexible working arrangements for parents as of right. Workers have rights to adjust their working times in the Netherlands while in Germany similar rights exist. I was rather struck that even in Greece flexitime is an entitlement. The ICTU case for a new statutory entitlement as well as better parental leave would make work-life balance a possibility for parents for the first time, instead of just an aspiration.

The Government and the social partners must put child care higher on the list of priorities. If we are serious about encouraging women into the workforce and recognising them as more than cogs in a wheel to keep the economy moving forward while acknowledging the complexity of rearing children and contributing to the economy, wide-ranging measures, particularly those dealing with the workplace, must be introduced. Many thousands of people work directly or indirectly for the Government, which is a major employer in the State. They have little flexibility and freedom to make choices about what is best for their children compared with workers in other European countries. That is negative in terms of society as a whole. If our children are not looked after properly in a way that meets their needs, we [1170]are all losers, not just parents who are under stress and children who must deal with inappropriate arrangements.

Mr. Connolly: Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  I propose to share time with Deputies Cowley and Cuffe. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Private Members’ motion. It is an undeniable fact that many thousands of parents, especially women, would enter the workforce if a proper countrywide child care infrastructure was put in place. A crisis is looming in child care in the coming decade. The shortage of facilities for working mothers will need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Female entry to third level education outstrips male entry by more than 25%. Many of these women will be working parents within the next ten years. It is essential that quality affordable child care facilities be provided to enable our brightest and best graduates to remain in the workforce. The child care deficit is having an increasing impact on female participation in the labour market, a highly talented pool of more than 100,000 female workers. Ireland spends less than 1% of its entire education allocation to educate just 4% of pre-school children. This places us on a par with countries such as India and Zimbabwe. On the other hand, France, Germany, Norway and Denmark, wisely invest in excess of 10% of their budgets in the provision of quality pre-school education for over 90% of their three year olds.

This motion equates pre-school education with pre-school child care. I submit that those children who have availed of this facility develop in the process improved linguistic, mathematical and literacy skills and have a distinct advantage throughout the rest of their school careers. Many parents in isolated rural areas and especially young mothers have joined parent and toddler groups and the vast majority indicate that they would use after school clubs for their children if such clubs existed. Parents have also expressed their interest in drop-in centres which would facilitate them to attend hospital appointments, interviews, training or leisure activities. Many families still continue to use the extended family as a child care resource, largely due to the dearth of such drop-in nurseries and crèches in many parts of rural Ireland. In such areas, there is an over-riding need for community based and community managed pre-school playgroups with a county childminding network as a major resource for parents. Such a network would face the challenge of co-ordinating strategy, increasing the supply and monitoring the quality of these facilities. In some parts of the country, mobile child care services have been developed and fill a vital need.

A critical issue is the training of child care workers, many of whom were moving from the black economy to registered services. Some attempts have been made to address this problem with short-term training courses. Working parents have been short-changed on child care. In the area of vocational training, vocational train[1171]ing opportunities scheme child care support has been withdrawn from those parents who participated in VTOS courses to allow them continue or re-enter education. Many parents who applied for these courses were banking on the €63.50 support towards child care expenses. The withdrawal of this support is a direct disincentive to those parents to pursue second chance educational courses. Many of these parents availed of these courses to return to the education system and to acquire vocational training. The courses were originally designed to make education available to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Approximately 20% of the more than 5,000 taking part in the VTOS courses may already have been forced to drop out of the scheme in the absence of child care funding. The reduced level of funding to provide child care services for VTOS participants will have profound consequences for young mothers who may have previously dropped out of the education system and even perhaps for society in general.

The lack of this funding will have the greatest impact in disadvantaged communities. Many of the emerging EU accession states would put Ireland to shame with their advanced child care provisions. The advantages of adequate child care policies for business and employers include minimal absenteeism, greater staff stability and productivity and a more contented workforce. A greater commitment to family-friendly labour market and child care policies on the part of the Government would reap significant benefits for business in general.

The lack of child care provision, especially in rural areas, requires urgent attention. There is a preponderance of seasonal and small scale ad hoc services spread unevenly throughout the country. Employer interest and involvement is minimal. The standard of child care provision is particularly poor for children under one year old. The qualifications of child care workers vary throughout the country. Over 30% of workers have no formal qualification in the specialty. Salary levels are low with more than 70% earning between €7,500 and €15,000 per annum, not including community employment and job initiative payments. There is a high dependency on volunteer workers.

A positive strategy for the development and management of an adequate child care infrastructure needs to be put in place in the interests of enhanced sustainable social and economic development.

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  I am pleased to speak on this Private Members’ motion. I congratulate the Sinn Féin Members for bringing it before the House. We are supposed to cherish all the children of the nation equally but I wonder if we do. Wonderful work is being done throughout Ireland which does not get the support it needs. It is essential work and is an investment in the future. Education is very important, particularly at pre-[1172]school level and is very beneficial to children in the long run. It is an investment in our children and in the next generation. The economy needs a proper education system and learning should start at an early age. The State is very supportive of education at primary, secondary and tertiary level but I wonder about pre-school level where the deficit exists. The prosperity of the country can be attributed to the fact that women participate in the workforce and are prepared to work. If that situation is to continue, there must be investment in child care. There is evidence to show that women find it increasingly difficult to stay in the workforce because of the lack of support at pre-school level in particular. I support this motion and urge the Government to take the matter in hand.

I am aware of the great work being done at community level. My community has a playschool. People have organised voluntary committees, great work is being done and great commitment is shown. I do not consider that the Government is supportive of the good work. There is a danger the playschool will not continue because of the lack of financial supports.

  8 o’clock

Some organisations are proactive and supportive in this regard. They have argued the case for better child care services. The National Children’s Nurseries Association is an organisation for providers of quality full day care and after-school care. They provide quality care for approximately 30,000 children and I ask the Minister to consider their pre-budget submission. The basis of their case is that quality child care has a beneficial effect on children. We all know that poor quality child care militates against our children’s futures. There is a need, therefore, to have people with the proper qualifications and they should be supported and given the employment they need. They should be remunerated adequately for their qualifications and the work they do. That is something that has not been recognised. There has been an emphasis on this area but it has not been on pre-school education in particular.

People have a practical difficulty in trying to continue working while ensuring their children are properly cared for. The National Children’s Nurseries Association has recommended that parental expenditure on child care incurred while accessing work, education or training should be a deductible tax credit and an allowable expense. The Minister should examine that. Also, paid maternity leave should be extended to one year to support parents. In respect of child care expenditure, tax credit relief should be provided to support parents in accessing work, training or education. Extending paid maternity leave to one year would support parents, particularly mothers, in their decision to return to work. These are rational measures which are important for the future.

There is a need to ensure proper adult-child ratios and qualified staff, as is the case in national [1173]and secondary schools. There should be a minimum of staff turnover with suitable environments but all of that costs money. The NCNA is recommending a capital grant of €2,500 per annum per child care place, and that income of up to €6,000 should be exempt from tax. This should apply to child care staff and to income generated by owners of child care facilities.

A good deal can be done which would be an investment in early childhood care and would provide the best opportunity for children to recognise and develop their full potential. In providing this investment the Government would make a major investment in the future.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  The Green Party welcomes and supports the Sinn Féin motion. We would go so far as to say it does not go far enough. It is timely to recognise child care issues and to consider the rights of children, who are under-represented in legislation and in the Constitution. I will do my part, through the All-Party Committee on the Constitution, to ensure that the needs of children are copper-fastened in the Constitution.

We are still in the dark ages regarding the rights of children and child care issues. It is remarkable that over the past ten years, when our economy improved dramatically, there was not a quantum increase in recognition of the rights and needs of children. At this time of the year, far too many parents are leaving their children in child care facilities in the hours of darkness and returning in darkness to collect them. We must examine in detail not just the quantity of child care provision but the quality of that provision.

The child care regulations do not go far enough. They specify in great detail the staffing that is provided for particular ages of children but they do not specify the qualifications of those staff, nor do they specify the quality care that must be provided in such facilities. It would not take much to change that but what we do need is a change of thinking from the Government. Why is it that there is remarkable child care provision on the Continent? There are small kindergartens in beautifully manicured parks in the heart of every community, within walking distance of every home, yet we do not see that here. We see child care facilities surrounded by Tarmacadam, under-staffing and cutbacks.

The cutback I am most incensed about is that in last year’s budget in the crèche supplement. That has directly affected one of the most vulnerable groups in society — working class mothers and their children in the heart of Dublin. When we talk about cherishing the children of the nation equally and providing more for those in pre-primary education, we must consider the impact those cutbacks have had on this community. We must reintroduce the crèche supplement or revise it, if necessary. I would be the first to admit we should examine carefully the [1174]way such a system should operate nationwide but it was a savage cut that impacted on the least well off in society.

We need to examine also those on higher incomes, and tax deductions would be a good way to examine how we can improve child care provision. At the lower income end, we have to consider greater direct support. We have to change the planning process so that the provision of child care places can be taken into account when granting planning permission for significant residential development.

We also need to examine the role of parents, and particularly the role of fathers, in child care provision. Article 42.2.2 of our Constitution states that the State shall endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home. The fact that that Article remains in our Constitution is symptomatic of the blind-spot in society regarding the needs of children and parents. We should gender-proof that Article and say that parents and guardians should not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home. We must also have a quantum change in the provision for child care. That means examining the length of maternity leave and ensuring that fathers take paternity leave because children should have their fathers present at that early stage in their lives. We must examine the pragmatics of reinstating the crèche supplement, continue the review of the child care facilities guidelines and ensure that the needs of children are placed much higher up on the scale of needs in society.

I welcome the motion. A huge amount of work remains to be done to ensure that children’s rights are placed foremost and that child care concentrates on the quality as well as the quantity of provision.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Fahey): Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I thank the Deputies for their contributions to this debate.

This Government came into office in 1997 when the provision of child care was at a very low base. We all know the history of the many positive developments to date. While the Government set very ambitious targets for the equal opportunities child care programme, the programme has already managed to exceed those targets and we are barely past the mid-stage. Over the life of the programme, the target was to increase the number of child care places by
50%, or about 28,000 new places. Already, we have created 20,500 new places spread across every county in Ireland, and our commitments to date will, when fully drawn down, create more than 31,000 new places. The end result of this [1175]phase of the EOCP is likely to be nearly 35,000 new child care places.

The programme, therefore, is already surpassing its original targets. We have achieved this, not just by ourselves, but by engaging with the voluntary child care sector and many community groups. Indeed, much of the EOCP’s success can be attributed to the partnership approach that we have developed in Ireland.

The Government pays close attention to models of child care in other countries and the best practices internationally but it is inappropriate to suggest that any such model can, or indeed should, be imported lock, stock and barrel to Ireland. A number of countries that have comprehensive systems as part of their welfare state are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of those systems and are in the process of reviewing them. Rather than copy their systems as proposed, the approach adopted by the Government was to examine and take account of various options when devising solutions which best suit our circumstances.

This is the approach that has seen the establishment of the EOCP. I thank the Deputies opposite who praised this programme in the debate last night as “a fantastic success”. It is not just they who have lauded this programme but, as my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, said last night, the OECD has also given it generous praise, particularly supporting its decentralised nature and partnership approach with the community sector. Both of these features are certainly aspects of which we can be proud.

An Opposition Deputy last night pointed correctly to the importance of keeping the child at the centre of the child care debate. The Government has done this through the quality measures in the EOCP which aim to foster quality awareness. The services which we are developing are appointed to the highest standards and offer a warm environment for our youngest citizens.

Of course, we cannot lose sight of the economic advantages of a good child care service. The Deputy spoke about parents having a choice between work and caring in the home but no such choice exists if there are no jobs to avail of in the first place. The massive increase in the number of women entering employment since 1997 has been driven not just by the increased availability of child care places but also by the greater levels of employment and higher wages which make work more attractive.

This year, the Equality Act 2004 and the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 have been enacted and put into effect. With the enactment and commencement of these two Acts the requirements of three EU directives and the complete set of commitments on maternity leave made by Government in conjunction with the social partners have been implemented. The [1176]Government is also amending the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 to incorporate improvements made to the maternity protection legislation where relevant, in the Adoptive Leave Bill which is awaiting Committee Stage consideration in the House.

The Government is also committed as part of the Sustaining Progress partnership agreement to strengthen the parental leave scheme in a new Bill which will be published during the current Dáil session. This Bill will include the following: a statutory entitlement to take the 14 weeks parental leave in separate blocks; raising the maximum age of the eligible child from five to eight years; an increase in the maximum age of the eligible child to 16 years in the case of children with disabilities; extension of parental leave entitlements to persons acting in loco parentis in respect of an eligible child. This legislation strengthens and improves the employment rights of working mothers and fathers. These improvements mark an important step by the Government to protect the rights of working parents in seeking to balance their family responsibilities with their work commitments.

A number of Deputies have argued in this debate that the solution to child care affordability is to reduce the amount of tax paid by parents who use child care, a solution which would favour the better off to the detriment of those on low incomes. The Government is committed to both economic and social policies, including taxation, public expenditure and welfare supports such as child benefit, which allow all parents have such a choice, not just in theory but in practice.

I thank the Opposition for raising the child care issue. We all agree it is an important facet of modern life. The Government is delighted to have the opportunity to outline the positive achievements in the past seven years in building a vibrant child care sector in Ireland.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis na Teachtaí ar fad a ghlac páirt sa díospóireacht seo, ach go háirithe leo siúd a léirigh tacaíocht don rún a chuir muid os comhair na Dála. Is trua é nach bhfuil an Rialtas sásta an tacaíocht chéanna a léiriú. Is féidir leis fós an deis sin a thapú agus an leasú atá aige a tharraingt siar. Measaim nach gcuidíonn sé leis an díospóireacht.

Child care is the litmus test for any Government’s commitment to equality and social and economic justice. While the lack of child care places is an issue for all parents, it disproportionately affects women, who are the majority of primary or sole carers of children in Ireland. It further disproportionately affects single mothers or those who are living in poverty. The National Women’s Council of Ireland has identified the lack of affordable, quality child care as the most significant barrier to women’s equal participation [1177]in all aspects of society. That is the reason this issue requires urgent attention and immediate action to deliver child care places and funding for such places. There must be a change in the Government’s priorities to deal with the urgency of the child care issue.

Without access to child care primary carers cannot work on a full-time or part-time basis. They cannot access full-time education or training to prepare for better paid work. Instead, they are left in low paid jobs if they manage to work at all. Lack of child care is, therefore, a key factor in the feminisation of poverty — a quarter of the women in this State live in poverty. It is also the main reason for the ongoing gender pay gap and the concentration of women in low paid jobs.

For the past four years the National Women’s Council of Ireland has demanded, as a socio-economic right, guaranteed quality child care places, which are accessible and affordable, for all children. Yesterday the council reiterated that call outside the gates of the House when launching its pre-budget submission. To date, the Government’s response has been dismal. As long as access to child care is determined by whether parents can afford to pay for it, there will never be social and economic equality in Ireland.

In recent months I met the local child care networks in my constituency. Both the Dublin 12 and the Dublin 10 networks expressed major frustration with the response of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to the plans they submitted to address the need for child care facilities in those areas. Those plans have been stalled for a year because the Department is conducting an ongoing review. How long does it take the Minister to read the review? How long must the networks wait for that review to be published and acted on? Due to that delay, the original costings submitted are dated and, in some cases, entire projects are in danger of not proceeding. If nothing else happens in this debate, the Government should commit itself to releasing the funding so these vital child care projects can continue.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I thank Members who contributed to the debate. Some useful points were made. It was particularly useful that this most important matter was discussed. The awareness of the Members will have been raised in the course of the debate. This evening the Minister said: “This Government came into office in 1997 when the provision of child care was at a very low base.” I agree with that statement. However, it remains at a very low base.

The Government could not care less about the issue of child care. The Government claims it is committed to promoting a work-life balance and claims it is making progress on child care. I challenge any member of the Government to make this claim to the parents of the 220 children currently on the waiting list of the Holy Family par[1178]ish crèche in Dundalk, a situation mirrored throughout the State, to the women forced to give up employment to care for their children because their wages do not even cover the costs of child care and to the young mothers forced out of education and training because of the cuts in vocational training opportunities scheme child care grants. Many think such cuts may be coming to an end because Deputy McCreevy was banished to Europe but this is not the case. The right wing cell is still embedded in Government and is still driving Government policy.

Having children in this State has become something that involves great financial and other difficulties for would-be parents. Couples who are already over-stretched, attempting to pay huge mortgages as a result of the price of housing, face extreme difficulties if they choose to have children. They cannot afford to lose one wage through one parent choosing to give up employment to look after the children, yet, child care costs, if they manage to secure a child care place, will eat up most of that wage, particularly if they choose to have more than one child. Any parent attempting to reconcile work and family life will tell of the amount of stress resulting from the child care crisis.

I will specifically address the issue of leave entitlements for parents, which are crucial instruments for creating work-life balance and for creating a real alternative to out-of-home care for infants in particular, and for toddlers. Maternity, paternity and parental leave as well as benefit policies can help parents reconcile the competing claims of work and family life following the birth or adoption of a child and enable all parents who wish to do so to care for their children at least in the first year of their lives. The Government claims the provision of statutory entitlements through legislative measures is part of its approach to achieving the goal of making workplaces more family-friendly, yet this State ranked bottom of the list along with Greece and Luxembourg in terms of statutory maternity pay levels and maternity leave in an international global analysis of employment conditions and benefits in 60 countries which was published in 2003. May God help Greece and Luxembourg.

As the motion states, it should be an immediate objective to enable parents who wish to do so to care for their children in the first year of their lives. This can be easily achieved through increasing maternity leave, introducing paid paternity leave and introducing payments in respect of parental leave. The motion reiterates Sinn Fein’s call for maternity leave entitlements to be increased to 26 weeks paid and 26 weeks unpaid leave to enable mothers to care for their babies during the first year, as is the situation in the North, just 50 miles away. We are also seeking equivalent increases in adoptive leave entitlements.

[1179]For leave entitlements to play a real part in enabling parents to have the choice to care for their children in their first year of life, benefits covering close to full wage replacements must be paid. We call for an immediate increase of maternity leave benefits to 80% of wages. However, there also needs to be a commitment to raising this to 100% of wages by requiring employers to pull their weight in respect of maternity benefit. Currently, this only covers 70% of a woman’s salary and the minimum payment of €135.60 a week is disgracefully low — a Member gets more than this for one night’s stay in the Dublin area. Its derisory level is a huge barrier to women in low paid employment who may wish to take up their full maternity leave entitlements.

We also call for the introduction of paid paternity leave because while parental leave remains unpaid it will never reach its potential take-up. Currently, there is no legal entitlement to paternity leave, paid or unpaid, which is scandalous. Fathers North of the Border are entitled to two weeks paternity leave and we ask for the introduction of the same entitlements in this State, which is not an unreasonable request. Incidentally, I noticed the Government did not even mention paternity leave in its amendment, which I take as an indication of the Government’s lack of commitment in attempting to enable fathers to play an active part in rearing their children.

Paternity leave, term leave, flexitime, special leave for domestic circumstances, unpaid leave to deal with domestic difficulties and career breaks are all available for workers in the Civil Service, and rightly so. However, we must ensure workers in the private sector also have access to such entitlements which can greatly increase their ability to balance work and family life.

The exorbitant cost of child care has already been outlined by my party colleagues. It is important to note that the cost and lack of availability of child care is making the State increasingly uncompetitive. The Government's failure to ensure the provision of affordable, accessible child care and its failure to tackle house price increases naturally has the effect of driving up wage demands. The Government is pursuing a policy of wage restraints in exchange for tax cuts while the root causes of wage demands, such as the lack of affordable child care and other necessities such as housing, are being ignored.

To those who would cry economic wolf, as was the case earlier in the debate, and in regard to equality and fair play for workers, I ask why those countries with advanced child care models, such as the Nordic countries, and which support real work-life balance are more competitive than or equal to this State despite having far higher levels [1180]of corporation tax. Part of the reason for this is that universal access to child care and generous leave entitlements are helping the competitiveness of their economies while the development of quality child care is self-financing through increased tax returns from women’s work and lessened dependency on social security.

This issue was raised on the Government side in the course of this debate. In direct reply to Deputy Andrews, Sinn Féin agrees with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions position that the tax system is still skewed greatly in favour of the filthy rich. Millionaires need not pay any tax. We would fund our proposal through a fair and equitable tax system. However, I fully understand why Deputy Andrews might not understand this as he is a Fianna Fáil Deputy.

It is clear that increasing funding for an expanded equal opportunities child care programme, as outlined in the motion, would be of economic benefit to the State. It is essential that child care services delivered through community employment schemes be mainstreamed. I am glad the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy Brian Lenihan, accepted in his contribution that community based services in areas of disadvantage will require ongoing contributions towards staffing costs. I would welcome an announcement from the Government stating clearly that community facilities, such as those referred to, will be guaranteed adequate, ongoing subsidies.

We brought forward this motion because of the insignificant attention these issues have received in the Houses and because of Sinn Féin’s commitment to putting in place early childhood education and care policies that support the educational and social needs of young children and their families. Access to State-run universal pre-school for children aged three up to compulsory school entry age, a separate programme for under threes and the provision of parental, maternity and paternity leave which is comprehensive, generous and flexible and which facilitates work-life balance, are the core tenets of Sinn Féin’s child care policy. Child care and work-life balance policies need to be driven by the criteria of what is in the public good and the recognition at all times that the rights of the child must be paramount. Early childhood education and care must be available to all children from the age of three years because it is beneficial to them regardless of their parents’ employment status or ability to pay. It also enhances their development and prepares them for entry to formal primary school, as well as providing care for those children whose parents are in employment or education. I commend the motion to the House. I hope we will enjoy the support of those Deputies on the Government side who spoke in favour it.

Amendment put.

[1181]The Dáil divided: Tá, 70; Níl, 49.

Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.



[1181]Níl
Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[1181]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Ó Snodaigh and Stagg.

[1183]Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

[1183]The Dáil divided: Tá, 70; Níl, 50.

Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.



[1183]Níl
Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. Information on Marian Harkin  Zoom on Marian Harkin  Harkin, Marian.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairi. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

[1183]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Ó Snodaigh and Stagg.

[1185]Question declared carried.


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