News & Media

Govt needs to show urgency on childcare issues

14 May 2020

Statement by Seán Sherlock TD
Parliamentary Party Chair and Spokesperson on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands; Agriculture and the Marine

Labour spokesperson on Children, Seán Sherlock TD, has said a plan for the safe reopening of the childcare sector needs to be prioritised following the collapse of the scheme for healthcare workers.

For over a week the Labour Party has been calling for an insurance indemnity on Covid-19 to ensure this is not an obstacle to providers reopening.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“The safe reopening of our childcare facilities is vital for parents and children, childcare workers and providers and the economy as a whole.

“But we have to get it right. For example the issue of insurance was quickly identified and solutions put forward, but no action was taken.

“The scheme for healthcare workers was fraught with difficulties from the start, with issues popping up within hours of its announcement in the Dail.

“Unfortunately the writing was on the wall very early on with this scheme.

“This has left our frontline healthcare staff, many of whom are women, still without adequate childcare during the pandemic, which also amounts to less workers on the frontline.

“I have said that it is now time for the Taoiseach to step in and take ownership of this. We need to see real solutions as a matter of urgency.

“But I am also concerned about the implications now for the rest of the childcare sector as a whole and the planned phased reopening of facilities over the next couple of months.

“We now need to see real political leadership on the childcare issue; it can no longer be treated as a secondary concern.

“The Department memo reported in the Irish Times today highlighting a number of concerns about the viability of the childcare sector is very worrying.

“The importance of our Early Years services has never been more visible and we have to ensure it survives this crisis.

“Parents also need to be assured first and foremost that their children will be safe; they need to have confidence in the system.

“Comments yesterday by the Taoiseach that the reopening of childcare facilities was one of the ‘safest things that could possibly done’ over the next couple of months need further clarity.

“This issue can’t be rolled along until the eleventh hour and then pulled at the last minute in June.

“It is not fair on parents, children or workers.

“It’s time for the Government to treat the childcare issue with the urgency it requires.”