Dáil debates

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

 

12:15 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I asked the Taoiseach why the Government was caught so unawares and why the Minister expressed the view that she was shocked and stunned at what was transpiring, given that in June 2019, the Minister for Finance, when asked a question regarding difficulties crèches were having in accessing insurance, said: "I am very conscious of the difficulties being experienced as a result of the cost and availability of insurance to certain types of businesses." The Government must have been aware that this was a looming crisis within the childcare sector. The response has been very lethargic since then. Likewise, Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform raised an existential crisis facing sectors, including the childcare sector, at the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach in April 2019.

What the Taoiseach seems to have said here this morning is that everything will work out fine and there will be no difficulties. Is that what he is saying or does he acknowledge that many crèches will be facing significantly higher insurance costs as a result of the exit of one insurer from the market? The OECD average for childcare costs is 12.6% of net family income. In Ireland, it is 27.4% so there is a real affordability and cost issue in Ireland. The additional costs will find their way to the parents and they will have to pay the additional childcare fees.

Can the Taoiseach explain why the Government seems to have been caught so unawares? He has said the Government was working behind the scenes. Can he bring more clarity to what that means in terms of helping crèches to ensure their viability and continuance into 2020?

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