Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has warned that the lack of affordable childcare in Ireland is not only keeping parents trapped in a cycle of poverty but also severely damaging the economy.
The Ireland South MEP was responding to two reports released this week which show Ireland to have among the worst levels of poverty for working parents in Europe.
A report by the European Commission found Ireland to have the most expensive childcare in the EU while a study by Saint Vince dePaul reported that poverty levels have doubled among lone working parents.
Ms Ní Riada, who sits on the EU Culture and Education Committee, said only a complete change of Government could reverse the trend.
“These reports make for appalling but unsurprising reading,” she said.
“The EU Commission report not only condemns the prohibitive costs of childcare in Ireland but outlines the effect it is having on parents and the economy as a whole, going so far as to call the government’s failure to provide affordable childcare as the ‘main impediment’ to higher employment levels.
“Meanwhile the SVP report shows the other knock on effects poverty is having on parents, severely limiting their access to employment, adequate housing, healthcare and education.
“All of these issues have wider ripple effects that hurt not only those directly affected but the entire country and all of these issues disproportionately effect women.
“These are not issues that can be fixed by a change in policy or a piece of legislation.
“They are the deeply ingrained outcomes of decades of unchallenged conservative and right wing ideologies in power.
“Not only is the political status quo in Ireland unwilling to address these issues, it is completely unable. These are the very ideologies and policies that drive them, it’s in their DNA.
“The only way to address these issues is a radical overhaul of the political culture and landscape in Ireland. Anything less is merely a sticking plaster.
“We will never achieve our full potential in this country until we stop trying to control people through poverty, stop punishing parents and start empowering women.”