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Civil servants swell Leinster House creche

NOT a single member of the Dail or Seanad uses the Leinster House creche that taxpayers subsidise.

The facility is near capacity but instead of encouraging more women into politics it is being used by civil servants, the Herald can reveal.

Files for the creche show that all except one of its 29 spaces are currently occupied at knockdown rates.

Despite its exclusive city centre location, the creche charges just €817 a month for a baby.

Prices decrease for toddlers and Montessori children to €772 and €707 respectively.



family

In the build-up the General Election, several female TDs quit politics because of the pressures on family life.

The most high-profile of these was Fine Gael's Olwyn Enright who gave birth to her second child in December.

She said that it was too difficult to deal with the "enormous commitment" of being a TD with a young family.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission told the Herald: "The creche charges full fees and is run on a fully-commercial, self-sustaining basis."

However, they admitted that public money does subsidise the facility "by providing rent-free accommodation, including furniture, fittings and equipment".

Taxpayers are also the ones to stump up for utilities such as electricity and heat as well as maintenance and some cleaning.

And despite claims that the creche is "fully commercial", Freedom of Information documents show that the Commission has made provision in its budget "to provide a financial subsidy to the service provider to compensate for losses associated with the operation of the creche".

To date, no direct financial subsidy has been paid to the third party service provider called Kids Inc.

In response to queries from the Herald, the Oireachtas confirmed that it does hold income and expenditure record relating to the creche -- but considered their publication not to be of public interest.

"I consider the release on these records would prejudice the competitive position of the operator vis-a-vis its competitors, by disclosing financial details, such as profit margins and operating costs," said the Freedom of Information officer.

The creche, which first opened in 2006, operates from 8.30am to 6.30pm on weekdays and employs five full-time staff.

Documents also note that the facility is available to members of the Oireachtas and their staff, staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas and staff of Government Buildings.

A spokesperson defended the use of taxpayer resources saying: "Creche facilities for members and staff are available in many parliaments and other places of work.

"The initiative is part of an attempt to make the Houses of Oireachtas a progressive and family centred environment in which to work."

hnews@herald.ie


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