Cash or time off? Ministers clash on childcare
The Labour Party and Fine Gael are deeply split over whether extra childcare cash should be directed towards raising child benefit or bringing in new parental leave.
The Government is planning to unveil a range of measures in the Budget aimed at helping the hard-pressed parents of young children. The Coalition will also roll out two weeks of paid paternity leave.
Children's Minister Dr James Reilly is pushing for more than just two weeks in the first year.
However, Government sources have revealed the money to roll out the scheme will have to come from Tánaiste Joan Burton's Department of Social Protection.
The Tánaiste is adamant that a promised €5-a-month hike in the child benefit payment must be delivered.
Ms Burton has also pledged a doubling of the Christmas bonus and is looking at increases in the dole for under-26s and the respite care grant.
"They [Fine Gael] are just trying to make themselves look good. If they're talking about accessing child benefit funding for some new scheme, that won't happen," a source said.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night played down talk of a giveaway Budget, declaring: "With our Budget it's goodbye 'Showtime' - hello Stability."