'Childcare at €2 per hour is just another Labour election gimmick' - SF
Published 15/01/2016 | 02:30
Tanaiste Joan Burton has been accused of making "election gimmick" promises on childcare, which Labour pledges will cost just €2 per hour.
In angry Dáil exchanges, Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said the Labour promise was "on the back of an envelope and not costed", as she dismissed the plans reported in yesterday's Irish Independent.
Ms McDonald said Labour in Government had broken all its promises on childcare and could not be relied upon to deliver the latest pre-election pledges.
"Your activities have hurt parents and children and you continue to hurt parents and children," Ms McDonald told the Dáil.
The Labour leader hit back and said the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, had "no credibility" when it came to whether he had been in the IRA. Ms Burton also referred to Sinn Féin's record in managing alleged child abuse and she specifically referred to accusations involving Mr Adams's past.
"Gerry Adams is a man who cannot even fess up in regard to what happened with certain murders," Ms Burton commented.
In a renewal of vitriolic Dáil clashes between Ms Burton and Ms McDonald, the Sinn Féin deputy leader said Labour had promised not to cut child benefit; had failed to deliver a promised comprehensive pre-school service; and imposed lone-parent payment cuts without the promised improvements in child care.
"In fact, you've broken every single promise that you made," Ms McDonald said.
The Labour leader said her party's childcare scheme - providing 40 hours weekly subsidised care for children aged nine months to 12 years at €2 per hour - will be fully outlined in its election manifesto. She said it would be fully costed and elaborated in detail.
Ms Burton also defended the party's childcare record set against the worst recession in generations. She said the party was working on more quality childcare at affordable prices while also improving standards among childcare providers.
The Tánaiste also told Social Democrat leader Stephen Donnelly the Government did not accept EU criticisms of "a political Budget" delivered last October. Ms Burton said the Government was creating jobs and building a sustainable economic recovery.
Also yesterday, Sinn Féin leader Mr Adams vowed to lead the party through the 32nd Dáil and warned that Fianna Fáil would not be considered as a senior Coalition partner.
Mr Adams, speaking as he campaigned in Cork, predicted that Sinn Féin were poised to make historic gains, with the party set to run 50 candidates in the General Election and contest every constituency nationwide.
Sinn Féin soared from just four Dáil seats in 2007 to 14 at the 2011 General Election.
With the party now above Fianna Fáil in opinion polls, some analysts indicated they could win up to 30 seats.
Mr Adams again scotched rumours about him bringing the curtain down on his leadership.