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Children's Minister is responsible for debacle

AS a parent, I was shocked and appalled at RTE's expose of mistreatment of children in creches. As a taxpayer, I'm furious that some childcare facilities receive State funding and turn a healthy profit, despite not complying with basic regulations.

And as a citizen of this State I'm flabbergasted at the apparent inability of Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald to take responsibility for the crisis.

Asked yesterday morning if she was responsible, she said: "I accept responsibility for being absolutely clear about what the problems are, how to address them, (and) having a vision for a plan to deal with those issues which were raised."

What an answer.

I'm glad someone's justifying their ministerial salary.

What's "unacceptable," to use the minister's words, is that since being appointed in March 2011 she has done little but have a Children's Referendum passed which promised that action would follow. The promised Child and Family Support Agency was due at the beginning of the year. It has yet to materialise.

The minister has also had more than two years to investigate if the massive expenditure incurred by the State on childcare is being properly spent, and if our children are receiving the best care on offer.

Can the State really afford to spend almost €1,000 per child on a year of pre-school education, without bothering to make sure that money is being properly spent?

But we shouldn't be surprised, as the minister has form in refusing to take responsibility for failings in her department.

The Referendum Commission has said that not only did the decision by Ms Fitzgerald to publish an information booklet for the Children's Referendum create confusion, the €1.1m spend was "difficult to justify".

I don't recall her apologising for that huge waste of my money. To be clear: Ms Fitzgerald is responsible for any systems failure regarding children in the care of the State, or in a publicly funded facility. Talking about "visions" and "plans" is a nonsense.

Irish Independent