Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)


5:05 pm

Photo of Kathleen FunchionKathleen Funchion (Carlow-Kilkenny, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I am sharing time with Deputy Tully, so I will try to fit loads in. I will look specifically at the area of children and childcare. I will start by welcoming the most recent announcements. It was unusual to have been sitting in the Chair and listening to all the Opposition party speeches. I thought mine might be a little different but it is important to give credit where it is due. I would have liked to have seen more, and our job in opposition is to always to push for more. The Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, will be particularly aware that I have spoken for years about the early years sector and the wages, in particular, but also the fees. It is, therefore, great to see progress on both those issues. It is important to acknowledge that.

There is always more that can be done. It is up to us to keep pushing that and we will continue to do so. We had an allocation for a decrease of one third this year and two thirds next year in our alternative budget. As a sector in which there has been underinvestment for years by previous Governments, however, it is good and it is welcome. It is progress and is a step in the right direction, particularly for workers in respect of the employment regulation order, ERO, recognition, which is been hard fought. That is positive and it is progress.

I want to touch a little bit on child poverty, given that we all know about the increased costs of living over recent weeks and months. No matter how much people try to budget or think that a bill might have doubled, people's bills are just getting to the stage where they cannot really predict at all what they will be. It struck me when I was looking at this that so much of it does not just fall to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Some of it falls to the Department of Social Protection in terms of the increase. There has been some criticism of the €2 increase for a qualified child, for example, which falls to the Department of Social Protection and how that does not really go far enough.

Given the number of children who are going to be at greater risk of child poverty, however, is there some plan to look at a joined-up approach between the Departments of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Education and Social Protection? We already have heard at committee, for example, about people relying increasingly on food banks. It strikes me that we are going to see more children potentially at risk of child poverty.

My other question, and I know there is not really time for a response, is about Tusla and possible increases for domestic violence services. Perhaps at some point the Minister of State could come back to that issue. I know it is going to the Department of Justice but I refer to the refuge spaces.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.