Extending parental leave by 3 months a Labour priority – Wall
You are all very welcome today to the launch of ‘Standing Up For Families’– Labour’s plan for quality and affordable childcare.
My name is Mark Wall. I am a Councillor and Labour election candidate for Kildare South. I am also a parent. It means I’m acutely aware of the day-to-day financial pressures that arise when trying to raise a family and run a household in Ireland today. I know it’s not easy. But I also know there are solutions.
This is why I proudly stand here today with my colleagues, Tanaiste Joan Burton and Deputy Ciara Conway, to launch Labour’s plan to arrest the rising cost of childcare in Ireland, and to make high-quality childcare the new norm.
I’d like to say a few words to you before my colleagues make their contributions, and then we will take some questions from the floor.
It’s no secret that childcare costs here are currently some of the highest in the world. It means that many parents are left with no choices, and many are forced to either stay at home, or use one household income to entirely pay for their childcare service.
Labour wants to let parents choose how they manage their child’s care. As the economy picks up, more and more parents are choosing to go back to work – and as a party in Government, we have to develop a strong policy response to this reality.
Our plan is strong and our objective is to deliver low-cost, high quality, affordable childcare for all under 12s.
Our proposals will resonate with those parents who have been under particular pressure in recent years, by reducing the financial burden on them while also ensuring their child or children receives the high-quality care and support they deserve. It will allow them to choose whether they want to stay at home, go to work or go back to education.
Labour also strongly believes in providing parents with the choice to stay at home for a longer period during the early months of their baby’s life. All the evidence shows that children perform best when they remain at home with their parents for their first 12 months.
That is why today we are also proposing that parental leave is extended by 3 months, to be shared by both parents.
We recognise that fathers should have the opportunity to bond with their new-born children – it’s why we introduced two weeks of paternity leave in the last Budget, which will happen in September.
The extension of parental leave by three months – with at least one month paid parental leave reserved for each parent – will ensure that every child can be cared for by their parents for the first 9 months of life. We will increase this to 12 months within the next ten years.
We are unequivocal – we will support all parents in their choices. We believe in providing them with the opportunity to stay at home for a longer period during those crucial early months of baby’s life. We also believe in providing low-cost quality childcare that gives children the support they deserve.
This is the kind of Ireland I want to live in and I am proud to be part of. An Ireland that gives parents choices and opportunities to have a say in how they raise their family.