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Budget must deliver comprehensive childcare package - Ó Caoláin

17 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has said the Government Estimates announced today signal the start of the countdown to the next General Election. But he said we must await the Budget for further details and there was a special responsibility on the government to deliver on childcare in that Budget. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The Estimates signal the countdown in earnest to the next General Election. Significant increases for Child Benefit and for Childcare are welcome. However, we must await the Budget to see whether the Government will deliver the comprehensive Childcare package it has promised. This must include measures to increase the supply of quality childcare which is accessible to all who need it and support for those using existing childcare services.

"Increased social spending last year and this year was long overdue. Clearly the Fianna Fáil element in Government has recognised that it was losing credibility, having presided over one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, in spite of a booming economy and record Budget surpluses year on year.

"If overdue measures on childcare and other social services are going to be introduced now, they are due, at least in part, to the imminence of an electoral test for this Government in which Sinn Féin will be mounting a sustained and serious challenge. If positive measures are introduced partly as a result of pressure exerted by our party and by the communities we represent then we welcome them as progress.

"The tragedy is that much more was not done to address inequality over the past eight budgets by this Government. The National Anti-Poverty Strategy set the year 2007 as the target date for consistent child poverty to be reduced to below 2% and eliminated altogether if possible. Clearly, with some 14% of children in consistent poverty, the target is far from being reached in 2007." ENDS

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