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TD says childcare plan for healthcare workers is ‘offensive’ and ‘useless’

Officials have approved a plan to provide paid leave to public sector staff whose partners are healthcare workers.

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Simon Harris has defended the plans (Brian Lawless/PA)

Simon Harris has defended the plans (Brian Lawless/PA)

Simon Harris has defended the plans (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Government’s childcare plan for healthcare workers has been described as “offensive” by a Sinn Fein TD.

On Wednesday, the Government announced a plan that would see the partners of healthcare workers provided with paid leave if they work in the public sector.

Those who are lone parents or whose partners do not work in the public sector may have to wait until restrictions are due to lift on May 5 or beyond for support, due to ongoing health concerns raised by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPEHT).

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the proposals would, “do nothing for the vast majority of nurses and midwives”.

Speaking in the Dail during a debate on Covid-19, Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly criticised the childcare plans.

“The INMO have called the Government’s plan worse than irrelevant and I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment,” she said.

The plan does nothing for the vast majority of healthcare staff and actively discriminates against single parents. The plans weren't just offensive, they were uselessLouis O'Reilly, TD

“The plan does nothing for the vast majority of healthcare staff and actively discriminates against single parents.

“The plans weren’t just offensive, they were useless.”

In response, Health Minister Simon Harris said: “In relation to childcare, I don’t think we want anything to be offensive or discriminatory.

“We’re trying to find a way forward that respects public health advice. We want to allow public service employees to stay at home if their other half is a healthcare professional and get paid leave.”

Mr Harris said officials are also looking at allowing childminders to come into the home as part of any easing of restrictions from May 5.

The National Public Health Emergency Team has reservations about the proposal and it cannot go ahead for now.

“We also want to look at having a registered childcare worker in people’s homes,” said Mr Harris. “We can only do that when the public health team says it is safe to do so.”

PA