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Press Release, 23/06/2015: Start Strong welcomes UN Committee's call for paternity leave in Ireland

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights highlights Ireland’s lack of statutory paternity leave, high cost of childcare, and lack of public childcare services

Dublin 23 June 2015 - Start Strong - a coalition group campaigning to improve government policy on early years in Ireland - today welcomed the call made to the Irish Government by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to speed up the enactment of the Family Leave Bill, and to introduce a statutory entitlement to paternity leave for all fathers.

Ciairín de Buis, Director of Start Strong, said,

“Ireland is one of just a handful of European countries in which fathers have no statutory entitlement to paternity leave. Families have changed over the decades, and fathers now play an active role in caring for their children. The UN Committee have recognised this. It’s time for the government to catch up."

Ciairín de Buis continued,

“Compared to other European countries, Ireland does very poorly in terms of paid family leave. We have one of the shortest durations of paid leave available to parents after the birth of a child. And fathers have none.”

Childcare

The Committee’s ‘Concluding Observations’, which were published yesterday, also call on the Irish Government to ‘take all necessary measures to meet the childcare needs of families, including through expanding affordable public childcare services’.

“The Committee is right to raise concerns about ‘the very high cost of childcare services’ in Ireland, but the variable quality of childcare services is an equal concern,” Ciairín de Buis said.

“The Committee’s call for ‘public childcare services’ is welcome as it recognises children’s early care and education as a public good requiring public investment. While Ireland’s early years services may be owned by a mix of private and community providers, they are nonetheless delivering a public service,” she continued.

Investment

The current level of public investment in Ireland’s early years services is less than 0.2% GDP, compared to the OECD average of 0.8% GDP.

The Government must spend a lot more money if they are serious about high-quality, affordable early education.

“With the economy turning a corner, the Government is in a good position to use the October Budget to put much greater public funds into parental leave, paternity leave, and high quality, affordable early years services,” Ciairín de Buis concluded.

/ends/