Thursday, 19 June 2014
Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Catherine McGuinness
As I have time only for a question, I cannot compliment Ms McGuinness on her many achievements over the year. I thank her. I compliment Senator van Turnhout and welcome all the people to the Gallery who have come here from all the agencies under the umbrella of the Children's Rights Alliance and others. In particular I welcome Mina Phelan of St. Nicholas Montessori Society of Ireland, with whom I worked back in the early 1990s, before there were any rules or regulations on child care. This morning here I raised the issue of one of the EU recommendations that Ireland take action in 2014 and 2015 to facilitate female labour market participation by improving child care facilities and having more affordable full-time child care, particularly for low-income families. Thankfully, under this Government we have for the first time a Minister for Children and Youth Affairs who is responsible for child care, which falls between the two stools of health and education. Could Ms McGuinness comment?
Hopefully, Ms McGuinness will never retire. She said the most senior journalists provided the most balanced commentary. Her valuable contribution to society should never end. She should keep it going, and I welcome her. One of the rights of the child advocated by the Children's Rights Alliance and the convention is education. Yet preschool education and child care are very often neglected. When I mention child care, I am always conscious to take into consideration the rights of families who want to stay at home and the need for facilities for them.