Crèche owner closing her business in protest after 300pc insurance price rise
A crèche owner in Co Carlow is closing her business in protest at increased childcare costs and slammed the Government for its "measly" support payment.
Linda Mellon, owner of Dolmen Nursery and Montessori School, said her business was no longer sustainable after being hit with a 300pc insurance hike.
Ms Mellon revealed she received a payment of just €175 from the Government as part of the €7m emergency payout announced in December.
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said childcare providers would receive payments ranging from €1,500 up to €26,000 after a leading insurer exited the market, resulting in premiums rocketing.
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"I am sending it back as €175 isn't going to do much for my insurance premium which rose from €1,000 to €3,700," she told Independent.ie.
Ms Mellon has been working in childcare for 23 years and says it breaks her heart to do it but feels she "has to take a stand".
She commutes to Co Carlow every day from her Dublin home and cares for 27 children at the crèche.
"I decided to do this protest when I got my insurance bill. Minister Zappone said payments were averaging €1,500 and I got a measly €175, and we were told the payments weren't for insurance but for increased paperwork and regulations we had to deal with.
"I can't sustain my business unless I put it back on the parents and it's not fair to do that.
"I've got my placards ready to go for January 7 and I'm hoping parents and staff will also get involved."
There are eight staff employed at Dolmen Nursery, six on a part-time basis and two full-time.
"I've highly qualified staff who are poorly paid because we simply can't afford to pay them more," she said.
"Someone needs to bite the bullet and put their neck on the line. The Government is forcing us to increase fees and abolishing our commercial rights. When I was private, I had no issues and staff were earning good money. But it has gone downhill since the Government took over."
Thousands of crèches were put at risk of closure after insurance broker Padraic Smith & Co informed customers last month it was unable to secure an alternative insurer for 2020.
Allianz is now the only company offering quotes.