TDs get crèche as parents struggle to find childcare

Paul O’Brien

For many parents, simply obtaining suitable, affordable childcare is a daunting task, let alone finding facilities which are near to their homes or places of work.

But TDs will not have that concern, as the new crèche will be located just a few hundred yards from their offices in Leinster House.

Fionnuala Kilfeather, chief executive of the National Parents Council (Primary), said it would be "very fortunate" for TDs to have such a facility so nearby when there was "a pathetic lack of provision of affordable, quality childcare" nationwide.

The crèche will be run on a "commercial basis", according to an Oireachtas spokesperson, meaning TDs can expect to pay for availing of the facility.

But the fees might prove cheaper than typical Dublin crèches should those bidding for the contract offer low prices in an attempt to make their tenders more attractive.

Even if standard fees are charged, that should not be too much of a concern, either, given that a TD's basic salary is E87,247 almost three times the average industrial wage.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, which provides for the running of the Dáil and Seanad, yesterday advertised for tenders to operate the crèche. It will be located in Kildare House on Kildare Street Those interested in running the crèche have until July 29 to submit their bids.

As well as TDs and senators, Oireachtas staff will be able to avail of the facility.

While Ms Kilfeather believed the number of TDs using the crèche would be relatively small, as the majority are based outside Dublin, she stressed the need for an "overall plan" to provide more such facilities for ordinary parents.

She welcomed Justice Minister Michael McDowell's recent announcement of funding to develop almost 4,000 new childcare places in community-based projects. She gave a more guarded welcome to his proposals to develop after-hours childcare in schools.

But she stressed: "We need to see lots of initiatives, not just a piecemeal approach. People are saying: 'Come on, how about the rest of us?'"

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