13 July 2016
By Bryan Smyth
Speaking today, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs and TD for Cork South-Central, raised concerns about the ever spiralling costs of sending children back to school.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire said:
“As we enter the summer months, the scrabbling and saving begins in the hope of having the money to send children back to school this September. Pressure mounts on families as they struggle to make ends meet while having to purchase uniforms, shoes and books, while also trying to meet their monthly payments with other bills.
“This is also the time of year that parents are out seeking childcare places, an enormous cost for many families, almost equivalent to a second mortgage for some.
“Estimates show that the average cost of sending a child back to school at primary level is close to €1,000, while sending a secondary school student is estimated to cost €1,500. Not a cheap endeavour. Regressive cuts to supports for families have led to situations in which low and middle income families find themselves literally unable to put food on the table.
“We live in a country where the concept of free education is enshrined in our constitution as an opportunity afforded to all children. This idea has become one of myth however as we move further from a model that affords equality of access and opportunity. The government must move in conjunction with all relevant departments in order to scale back these ever increasing costs on our most hard pressed citizens.
“It must also make a commitment to moving towards subsidising the outrageous costs of Childcare, along the lines proposed in Sinn Féin’s document, Better4Childcare, which proposed maximum fees of €180 a week initially, moving to €150 a week subsequently.”