23 October 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Patsy McArdle

LOCAL Sinn Fein MEP for the Midlands-North West, Matt Carthy, has made a call to the government for an urgent change in the legislation in order that childcare facilities can be exempt from commercial rates.

The Carrickmacross Euro-MP said yesterday that the commercial rates on community and private childcare facilities have increased the costs on parents, many of whom are already struggling.

He said: ”Numerous childcare providers and anxious parents have been in contact with me in relation to their increased concern on this issue and many local authorities have supported Sinn Féin motions calling for the exemption of childcare facilities from commercial rates.

“However, it is disappointing that the government, by refusing to take action on this matter to date, has effectively ignored the views of local elected representatives, demonstrated by the motions carried in several local authorities.

“The Government must recognise that this issue primarily affects working families across this state – the squeezed middle that Minister’s pledged to protect in last week’s budget.
“Many childcare providers simply cannot afford to pay these rates and may struggle to keep their doors open when faced with a bill that, in some cases, may run into thousands of euros.
“They have no choice but to increase their fees which, in turn, is forcing some parents to remove their children from the facility.

“It is laughable that this government claim to support measures to reduce unemployment yet will not take action to reduce one of the most prohibitive barriers to employment – the cost of childcare.

Mr. Carthy concluded: “I am calling on the government to amend the legislation in order to allow childcare facilities be exempt from commercial rates in the same way as other educational facilities.”

Meanwhile, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, Matt Carthy also spoke out strongly against what he termed “an obsession with economic austerity policies in Europe and in Ireland”.

He was speaking during a debate on the European Semester for economic policy coordination and stated: “Countries that have needed a new radical economic policy have instead been subjected to a disastrous agenda which has resulted in high levels of public debt and unemployment. Those jobs that are being created in many cases are low paid and short term.

“In Ireland we’ve seen the devastating results of our government’s obsession with an austerity policy. In my own constituency entire rural communities have been left desolate with no employment opportunities for the young resulting in mass emigration from these areas.

“The Irish government has now created a two-tier recovery that has yet to reach those families that actually suffered most throughout the recession and it appears that the European Commission are also cheerleading this approach.

“To achieve any kind of sustainable fiscal adjustment the sole priority should be to achieve full employment.”The failure of austerity policies and the ineffectiveness of the current monetary policy is obvious to the citizens that we represent. Too many here today, I fear, are blind to the requirement for a real stimulus package that will reinvigorate our domestic economies”.

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