Friday 23 March 2018

Nothing - not even a toddler - gets up Enda's nose

Myles Motuza gets close to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Daisy Chain Daycare creche in Clochran, Tuam. Photo: Andrew Downes
Myles Motuza gets close to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Daisy Chain Daycare creche in Clochran, Tuam. Photo: Andrew Downes
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

One young man saw his opportunity. Here was the most powerful politician in the country. It was wide open and he went for it.

No, he wasn't a water protester seeking to give Enda Kenny a piece of his mind or a true-blue Fine Gaeler after a selfie.

Instead it was a little boy whose finger certainly brushed off the nostril of An Taoiseach.

It was perhaps entirely accidental - and a tilt of Mr Kenny's head prevented any real exploration - but it was a reminder that around children - anything can and does happen.

Mr Kenny chose Daisy Chain Day Care in Tuam, Co Galway to launch his 'Investing in the Early Years' plan.

A former teacher, he's a natural with the kids, effortlessly floating from "what does a cow say?" to joining them in a bit of colouring in. The early years of a child's lives are, as Mr Kenny put it, "magical".

"I suppose in essence the first five years last forever," he mused. "That's why we want to invest in them - because they make a mark on their future."

So Fine Gael wants to give a €2,000 annual subsidy to parents of children between nine months and three years and an additional eight weeks leave in the first year of a child's life.

But how, Mr Kenny, do you defend the Government's record on childcare to parents who have already paid what often amounts to a second mortgage on crèches?

He points out that the country was "bankrupt" when the coalition took office but that they've created a senior Children's Minister, held a Children's Rights referendum, and established the Child and Family Agency.

None of that put money in parents' pockets, but, Mr Kenny says, the Fine Gael plan "is a package that's building on a recovering economy and that's going to be of benefit I think to the vast majority of parents [with young children]."

Earlier, Mr Kenny officially became a candidate in the election by handing in his nomination papers in Castlebar.

So will it be for the last time?

"Are Galway going to win the All-Ireland in the next few years or will it be ourselves? Who knows what the future holds," he said.

"My commitment is if we're re-elected on the 26th that I'll serve a full term as Taoiseach and I would be honoured to do so. However, it's a matter for the people to make their decision."

Irish Independent

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