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Gender Equality

Sinn Féin tables proposals to cut cost of childcare by two thirds

The party launched their childcare policy this afternoon.

CLIMBING COSTS AND a lack of childcare services have left women “locked out” of the workforce, Sinn Féin’s children’s spokesperson has said.

Kathleen Funchion said that care responsibilities continue to fall on the women of Ireland, and highlighted a Sinn Féin study that found 90% of women felt that juggling unpaid parental leave and childcare expenses have hindered their careers.

She was speaking at the launch of the party’s policy on childcare, which promises to slash costs by two thirds over two years. 

The additional €270m investment would combat soaring childcare fees and increase the number of services available to parents. The money would be pumped directly into the sector and service providers will be encouraged to opt in to the scheme, the party said. 

“Care falls to women all the time,” Funchion told The Journal.

“We constantly hear talk in the political world about encouraging more women in all sectors of the workplace, and yet the supports are not put into place,” she said, adding that more affordable and accessible childcare will be a “gamechanger” for women.

Ireland has among the highest childcare fees in Europe, with parents paying nearly €800 per child per month for the service.

The proposed policy is a universal measure that would assist families on all incomes, the party said.

In a cost-of-living Dáil motion last month, finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, who also attended this afternoon’s launch, said the Government needs to focus on targeted measures.

The party has also previously criticised government action not aimed at helping lower income families, such as the universal €200 electricity credit.

When asked why her party did not opt for a series of targeted supports when devising their childcare package, Funchion said that universal investment was needed alongside the targeted measures that are already in place to tackle the rising expenses.

Also addressing reporters this afternoon, Doherty said it was important to address issues surrounding childcare during the cost-of-living crisis

For couples living in Dublin paying €214 per child per week for childcare, the proposal will save them €138 every week, the party said .

“One of the topics that continually comes up is the issue of childcare. Whether it’s the family that is forking out the equivalent of a second mortgage, or a family who’s had to restrict the working hours because of these fees – they are telling you that this issue is really pressing down hard on them,” Doherty said.

He added: “Our proposal is ambitious. Our proposal is good for the economy. Our proposal is deliverable. And our proposal is very vital by families right across the state, particularly at this particular time.”

Separately, it emerged today that Sinn Féin is considering tabling a motion of no confidence in the government following the coalition’s loss of a Dáil majority yesterday evening.

At today’s proceedings, party leader Mary Lou McDonald said that a decision would be made tomorrow on whether Sinn Féin will submit the motion.

“The appetite for change that was evident in the last general election has not gone away … people are running out of patience, if they had any to begin with,” she said.

The deadline to submit such a motion for next week is 11am tomorrow.

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