Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has dismissed the Independent Alliance’s proposal to introduce a €1,000 per annum payment to grandparents who care for their grandchildren for more than 10 hours per week.

The Fingal based Senator has described it as mere immature kite flying.

Senator Clifford-Lee commented, “This so-called ‘Grandparent and Grandchild Expenses Reimbursement Scheme’ is a rather pathetic attempt to resolve Ireland’s ongoing crisis in childcare provision.

“Rather than put forward a well-thought out policy to increase the availability of affordable childcare, the Independent Alliance has thrown out what can only be described as an insult to the hundreds of thousands of parents and grandparents who are caring for children.

“An annual payment of €1,000 will give the princely sum of €19.20 per week to grandparents; hardly an appropriate recognition of the sacrifice and dedication involved in caring for children.

“Neither will it in any way reduce childcare costs for struggling families, who are burdened with astronomical childcare costs, often thousands of euro each month.

“The shortage of childcare places has become major issue in many parts of Ireland, my own included. Parents across the country are already being told that they cannot avail of their child’s ECCE entitlement, owing to the lack of spaces in crèches.

“This proposal would do absolutely nothing to address this deficit.

“Relying on grandparents who have likely worked all of their lives to sort out childcare is a last resort for parents and adds stress to family relationships.

“The Independent Alliance and their partners in Government need to get real about the scale of Ireland’s childcare crisis and take meaningful steps to address it. They should be examining tangible proposals to help families rather than emphasising the need to turn to grandparents.

“Families in Ireland deserve a well-funded childcare sector that is easily accessible and affordable for all,” she concluded.