Minister O’Gorman’s pledge to cut childcare fees by on average 50% for parents over two budgets was halfway fulfilled in Budget 2023. However, this week during a press conference in government buildings, the Green Party Minister would not be drawn on to comment on the 25% average reduction on parents’ 2022 fees.
He did say that he is looking at a ‘broader focus’ when it comes to budget discussions.
“I am looking to cut the cost of childcare. I achieved a very significant cut in childcare last year; 25% was my focus last year, it was the cut in fees,” Minister O’Gorman stated, according to the Independent.
“What I’ve indicated this year is I’ll have a broader focus. I want to continue to reduce the cost of childcare for parents but I want other parents to benefit from those reductions as well.”
He added that parents who use childminders are currently excluded from the National Childcare Scheme, and he wants to expand the scheme to ensure they are included.
Minister O’Gorman was also speaking on goals to broaden the access and inclusion model, which sees children with disabilities avail of preschool services.
According to The Independent, he stated: “Those are all schemes that require significant investment.”
He was adamant that he was looking to continue to make very significant reductions and felt that it should be acknowledged that “there are other children with specific needs in the area of childcare and other parents that need to benefit from cost savings as well.”
The Green Party Minister did not believe he was going back on his pledge for a further 25% reduction in childcare fees.
“I am looking to cut it as much as I can within the allocations that we’re working to achieve within the department.”
These comments came on the same day when hundreds of childcare providers and their supporters held a demonstration outside of Leinster House over a shortfall in government funding.
Childcare facility owners, parents, and staff demonstrating outside the Dáil are calling for more investment in the childcare sector and to bring awareness to struggles with excessive regulation and bureaucracy.
The protest has resulted in the closure of some creches for the next three days.
In response to this, Minister O’Gorman defended his role and the work he has done as Children’s Minister.
He said over €400 million has been invested in the childcare sector over the last three years.
He says he believes he has ‘listened to the sector’ and ‘responded to specific needs’ but ultimately agreed that childcare workers are and continue to be underpaid, something he would like to address, and that he would like a new deal to increase pay for workers in the sector.