Thursday 14 December 2017

Commitments on childcare and education now in doubt

Labour TD Willie Penrose drove bankruptcy measures. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Labour TD Willie Penrose drove bankruptcy measures. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Plans to introduce two weeks paid paternity leave have been thrown into doubt as a result of the ongoing political impasse.

Civil servants across several government departments are unable to progress important legislation because ministers do not have the powers to issue directions.

And several measures that were given funding in October's Budget have effectively been frozen - because there is no government to ensure they are underpinned by legislation.

One of the most important measures at risk of delay is the provision of two weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers.

A major bill by Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan, which allows for the potential merger of up to 10 of the State's 14 institutes of technology, has also been sidelined until a government is formed.

Plans by former Drugs Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin to bring in a supervised injection centre in Dublin and Alan Kelly's plans to set up a planning regulator are also in doubt.

The regulator was announced last year in a bid to address poor practice and irregularities in the planning process.

Last week, outgoing minister Kevin Humphreys, said ministers were now merely entering their departments in a caretaker capacity to ensure that "the lights are on and there is air in the tyres".

"The clock is ticking on a lot of legislation at the moment and decisions need to be made shortly to get it done before the summer recess. If it goes past the end of April without a government being formed, then we're in real trouble," the former Dublin Bay South TD said.

"There were decisions made in the Budget, such as paternity leave, that need legislation. So during this period, there is no legislation taking place, yet there is a commitment that it will be in September. If it is not published by the summer recess, it can't be on the statute books."

Irish Independent

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