Fianna Fáil has urged the new Children’s Minister Charlie Flanagan to make the affordability of childcare and reform of the childcare sector a key priority in his new role.

Congratulating Minister Flanagan on his appointment, Deputy Troy said, “I want to wish Minister Flanagan the very best in his new role. Representing the needs of children is one of the most important positions at the Cabinet table. The Minister now has an opportunity to lead essential reforms that will make a real difference to the well-being of children and their families.

“I am calling on Minister Flanagan to use his new position to tackle the gross inadequacies in the childcare sector and to bring exorbitant childcare costs under control. Working parents across the country are crippled by the cost childcare. Ireland has the second highest childcare costs in the OECD, exceeding mortgage payments for many families with young children.

“Figures show that childcare costs now account for about 29% of net income for a couple and almost 50% of net income for lone parents. Many working parents are being put in the impossible position of having to choose between quitting work due to the high cost of childcare or continuing their careers while losing money. Fianna Fáil has published extensive proposals on childcare reform that would help to bring costs for families under control.

“The Minister must immediately publish the long overdue new regulations for the childcare sector. We have heard too many stories of grossly inadequate facilities and staffing levels at a number of childcare facilities. While the vast majority are run to a high standard, we cannot continue to allow a situation where the safety of children can be put at risk while they are in day care.

“I am urging Minister Flanagan to take on board the legitimate concerns of a number of groups about the watering down of the Children First legislation. We have waited far too long for this legislation to be published. Minister Flanagan now has an opportunity to introduce meaningful legislation that better reflects the heads of the Bill, introduces proper sanctions for those who fail to report concerns about child abuse, and guarantees that frontline child services will be properly resourced.

“Minister Flanagan must also publish the long overdue Information and Tracing Bill which was promised more than three years ago when this Government got into office. This will allow people who were illegally adopted within the State to trace their biological parents.”