Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy has highlighted the fact that Mountbellew Community Childcare Centre in County Galway is in urgent need of an extension to cater for huge childcare waiting lists.

Deputy Murphy raised the issue with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone in the Dáil this week under Topical Issues.

“Mountbellew Community Childcare Centre has applied for a Pobal grant to fund a much needed extension. The centre can currently cater for about 50 children- Presently there is a huge waiting list to access the centre. Due to this waiting list some 30 extra children are currently using an interim measure of the loan of the national school gym. This is not an ideal solution as you can imagine. The children are spending hours in their national school gym where they have no access to rest areas. Even with this, there are many children in the community who cannot access the centre as they are at maximum capacity.

“There are many families whose children are not able to access their local community pre-school program. As we know, attending a pre-school in your locality, with your peers who you will begin national school with is an advantage all our children should be afforded. Now children in the area are forced to attend pre-school in satellite towns and even at this they are only able to access limited days. Parents in this situation have been told that their children are not advancing as well as hoped due to their limited attendance.

“The centre urgently needs to be afforded this Pobal grant. I feel this warrants immediate review. To invest in this centre makes economic sense – we must be able to facilitate parents to work and contribute while our children, the future generation are nurtured in the best environment possible. This is rural Ireland. This is the generation working full time bolstering our economy.

“I have been contacted by so many parents and members of the public from the Mountbellew area in relation to this pressing matter. One particular email from a concerned father really rang a bell with me- he said that in January of this year himself and his wife queued outside Mountbellew Community Childcare Centre from 5.30am to try to get their daughter a place for September only to be told there was no space. This is because the childcare centre has no space and needs this extension urgently.

“I must say Mountbellew is extremely fortunate to have a childcare centre of this calibre. All the emails to me from parents have noted the professional nature of staff and the loving, caring and nurturing environment. I think it speaks volumes that the majority of staff working there have been there for many years and continue to deliver the highest standard of care with a continuing innovative approach.

“To not grant the Pobal funds to this centre would be devastating to the Mountbellew community – The Minister must act swiftly in relation to this pressing matter,” concluded Deputy Murphy.