[Sinn Fein]

25th May 1999

For immediate release 25th May 1999

Childcare crisis - government response a disgrace

Sinn Fein Dublin EU Candidate, Seán Crowe today said ``it is a disgrace that the government are advertising internationally to fill job vacancies in Ireland when it is obvious that if they addressed the need for affordable childcare, those many women who want to return to the workforce would do so.''

Mr. Crowe said

``The attitude of successive governments to the issue of childcare has been totally inadequate. Tax credits for parents using creches at the workplace while welcome do not go far enough. In the greater Dublin area many parents are forced to commute long distances to and from work, most preferring to leave their children with carers near home. In these circumstances they are unable to use workplace-creches or avail of the minimalist tax relief available.

``Child care provision for working parents in Ireland must be seen in the context of equality. More women now want to go out to work but are prevented from doing so because of the inadequacies of our child-care system which is among the most expensive in Europe, with full Day-Care prices at 20% of average earnings.

``The lack of quality, affordable child-care is a major barrier to women gaining employment. In the short term we recommend that child care should be tax free and in families and communities affected by poverty, child care should be provided by the State.

``In the long term we must develop an an all-Ireland strategy with responsibility in one governmental department to implement quality, standardised, state-funded child care in the long-term.''ENDS

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