| 14.3°C Dublin

Our children deserve a lot better than this

* In light of the current revelations of the sub-standard practices of some childcare providers in Ireland, I feel I have to write this letter to you. Firstly, I would like to say that I am delighted that this investigation has exposed the failings in certain childcare settings. It is high time that parents and the wider society began to examine the environment our children are in on a daily basis for almost nine or 10 hours. As a working practitioner, I was never questioned on my qualifications by parents. It was just "accepted".

As an early years practitioner with a BA in Early Childhood Care and Education – and given that I'm currently completing an MA in Education – I feel that the childcare system in Ireland is not valued. In comparison with our European counterparts, we lack support from governmental and managerial levels. There is not enough emphasis on qualifications.

The Childcare Preschool Regulations 2006 only insist on a minimum level of standards regarding development, physical, social and emotional. In the primary school sector, a degree is the minimum qualification deemed acceptable, why not in early childhood education?

Childcare providers, especially in the private sector, are free to employ staff with the minimum level of qualifications to meet the job description, which is currently a minimum FETAC Level 5 in Childcare Studies. But people cannot be adequately trained in the appropriate child development and child psychology to control various child behaviours in just nine months.

Children are a precious commodity and education in early years should be a priority for our legislators. At the very minimum, childcare practitioners should have attained a degree in early education and childcare.

The abusive nature highlighted in the programme aired on Tuesday night was not surprising to me. In many settings, practitioners are overworked, undervalued and underpaid.

However, this does not excuse the behaviour. International research has shown that the years 0-6 are the most formative of a child's education. We need action not words and empty promises from our government.

Natalie Walsh

Charlestown, Co Mayo

GOVERNED BY COMICS

* So the Shatter saga goes on, while our country is sliding into oblivion, all we hear is he said this, and he said that, and we're still no nearer to getting to the truth once and for all.

The simple solution to the Shatter saga is let Mr Shatter ask his pal the garda commissioner to question the garda who stopped Mr Shatter that night and in turn to submit a report on all that happened – it couldn't be all that difficult.

Any filmmaker looking for actors for their next comedy blockbuster could do worse than have a look at our government frontbench.

We must be the greatest little country in the world being governed by a bunch of comedians.

Fred Molloy

Clonsilla, Dublin 15

CAR FOR THE COURSE

* What's the difference between my 2000 Toyota Corolla and creches in Ireland? My car is inspected every 12 months.

Kevin Devitte

Mill Street, Westport, Co Mayo

APPALLED WITH HANAFIN

* Des Hanafin is appalled that the new bill has been referred to as the "Pro-Life" bill.

Well I've been appalled for years that his organisation is called the "Pro-Life" Campaign.

They have no views on "Life", only views on being born. If that is at the cost of the mother's "life" then so be it.

Life is a wonderful gift. It is the job of our society to make it so for every child born in Ireland.

This includes protecting the mothers who often make it so.

This is the meaning of Pro-Life.

And I believe it's the best way of saving the lives of the unborn that Mr Hanafin cares so deeply about.

Pauline Bleach

Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia

THE WRONG MESSAGE

* Most Dublin citizens are aware our city council has removed all of Dublin's public toilets, citing the usual catch-all excuse of antisocial behaviour.

Now we learn that the government is looking to install drug injection rooms with toilets for the city's addicts. Are the authorities really suggesting the only way you can be permitted to use a public convenience is if you become a heroin addict?

John Devlin

Erne Tce, Dublin 2

CRITIC NEEDS TO GROW UP

* It would appear that your radio 'critic' Darragh McManus has cranked up his regular Saturday morning column. He appears on the the same page as John Boland your TV critic (who is always worth reading). Last Saturday he criticised those who claim that there is a bias in the media against Catholics and then went on to slate everything about this faith. This was choice stuff.

In a previous column, which I found to be morally reprehensible and offensive, he claimed that 'pro-life' was a 'nonsensical' name and asked "who besides Satan and serial killers are anti-life".

He might take a leaf from the great Con Houlihan. He always cast aside his bias in his column as he believed in balance and fairness. When comparing the old local town and Dublin reporters, he said: "As soon as a young pup sees his name in print he reckons he's made it."

John Burke

Clontarf, Dublin 3

BOOMTIME SNOBS

* One must pose the question why did people get into so much debt, and others not. During the Celtic Tiger years some people lived like the contrived property boom was going to last forever. I remember vividly snooty people walking past me, with their head in the air, and refusing to look at me, as if I was a piece of dirt. Just because I wouldn't act like a proud peacock living on borrowed money.

No four holidays a year for me. No weekends shopping in New York for a handbag. No third home in Bulgaria. No fancy dinners out. No designer clothes. No wallet full of credit cards. No six bank loans on the go. No sending the kids to private schools.

For me, I was just satisfied to do my job, and live on my wages, and pay off the mortgage on my old house.

Now those same people who didn't want to know me, when they were running amok, with big ideas, expect me to pay for their good times, which I had no hand, act or part in.

Anthony Woods

Ennis, Co Clare

MATTER OF DIPLOMACY

* In my opinion piece in yesterday's paper, I explained how the Danish political system works with just one chamber in our parliament and a strong local government. Some of my words were picked up by your deputy political editor without my knowledge and I would like to underline that nothing I said in my piece should be construed as support for those who want to abolish the Seanad here.

I want to make it clear that while I follow and respect the Irish debate I have no wish to be seen as taking part in it.

Niels Pultz

Danish Ambassador to Ireland

Irish Independent