Childcare burden three times higher in Ireland
Families in Ireland spend 35pc of their income on childcare compared to 12pc in the rest of Europe.
And the burden of meeting these costs mean Irish people rank making childcare more accessible as the number one way to tackle inequality between men and women, an EU conference in Dublin heard yesterday.
OECD figures show the cost of childcare puts a disproportionately large burden on Irish families and an EU report last week criticised the lack of affordable care as a barrier to employment, said the EU's Dublin representative Barbara Nolan.
Children's Minister James Reilly said that Ireland had come late to the table on childcare, but his new interdepartmental group would report by the summer on a range of options - including paid paternity leave, tax breaks and after-school care.
"The whole point of getting that by the summer is to have it ready for the estimates, to have well-priced properly-analysed options available for Government so they can decide what they can act on, if the money's there and what will have to wait," he said.
It would also do a cost-benefit analysis of the €260m currently spent on childcare to see if it was getting the desired outcomes.
Mr Reilly said he was "a really strong supporter" of paid paternity leave, ideally for as long as mothers, but financial constraints meant they'd have to start at two weeks.