'Not really free childcare, but a step in right direction'
MOTHER-of-two Anne Marie Kelleher has welcomed the €5 increase in children's allowance and said it will benefit her family.
She is currently on maternity leave after having baby Rian five months ago. She also has three-year-old Lily Anne.
She also welcomed the two weeks paternity leave for fathers, as she believes it would have been beneficial for her family earlier this year.
"Eugene used his holidays when we had the baby this year, it would have been good to have that payment there as well and he would have had holidays to spare," the Cork woman said.
"It is good to see them bringing in something for fathers as well. It is not just about mothers, fathers have to bond with their children as well. They are key to their development as much as mothers are."
She said the changes, including the extra free year of pre-school, are "a start, but I don't think they are enough".
"It's not really free childcare when it's just three hours a day.
"While it is very good, you still have to have a childminder to collect them and a childminder to drop them off, you still have to pay a childminder the whole time. It's a step in the right direction. It is a good system that they get the free year, but I don't think it is an extra benefit really to give an extra, second year free. And certainly not to the level of benefit that they are claiming it is."
Emma Jane Hade