Record number of families benefitting from increased National Childcare Scheme subsidies

Visiting Waterville’s Little Stars in Blanchardstown.

From 2 January, subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme increased to €1.40 per hour of childcare, per child. This is an increase of 90c on the previous rate and means that parents using full-time registered early learning and childcare services will benefit from an average 25% reduction in their childcare costs.

Since being appointed Minister for Children, I made clear my intention to make childcare more affordable for parents, and with this increase in the NCS subsidy, due to the additional €121m I secured in Budget 2023, I am delivering on that promise. 

This week, I announced that more than 105,000 children, and their families, are benefitting from the National Childcare Scheme – an increase of 95% compared to this time last year. I’m delighted that the increased subsidies have led to a huge growth in demand for the NCS, meaning more parents than ever are getting more affordable childcare. 

I’ve spoken to a number of parents across the constituency who have told me how beneficial these increased savings on childcare are for them and their family. Many parents who felt they had to choose between childcare and returning to work have said that they now feel that they can do both. I want to continue supporting families with children, and will be working within Government on how we can bring even further affordability for parents in future budgets.

Dublin 15 Celtic Tiger defective apartments to be addressed under Government’s €2.5bn scheme

Dublin West TD and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman has welcomed new Government legislation which will support repairs of Celtic Tiger-era apartments and duplexes with fire safety, structural safety and water ingress defects.

This will be of significant importance to many families across Dublin 15, who bought their apartments during the Celtic Tiger and subsequently established that their apartments had serious defects.

A ‘whole building’ approach will be taken, ensuring common areas and shared spaces are also remediated where required to the relevant standard. It is envisaged that the Housing Agency will play a central role in the administration of the scheme and that Owners’ Management Companies will be funded to carry out the necessary remediation works, with specific limitations or exemptions on certain commercial owners.

In order to ensure that important life-safety works are not paused, the Government has also decided that remediation works related to fire safety defects, entered into or commenced from today, will form part of the remediation scheme, subject to terms and conditions. Such works will need to be agreed with local authority Fire Services and the details of this process will be worked out as a priority and provided in due course. Government have approved the principle of allowing remediation costs already incurred or levied to be covered under the legacy defects scheme, within the scope and defined parameters of said scheme.

Following the Government meeting, Minister Roderic O’Gorman TD said:

“We know that several apartment blocks constructed in Dublin 15 and Dublin 7 during the Celtic Tiger era have significant defects, causing stress for the owners, putting them in financial difficulty and, most importantly, impacting on the safety of those who live there.

Apartment owners have been raising concerns with me about these defects since I became a local Councillor in 2014, and I have continued to highlight these issues with Government colleagues since elected as TD for Dublin West. I am pleased that today the Government approved the drafting of a scheme that will protect the safety and welfare of those living in these apartments, as well as ensure those who have already incurred remediation costs are included within the scheme.

The Green Party has been advocating for a scheme like this for years, and for improved building controls to prevent families facing similar difficulties in the future.”

€300,000 to refurbish Hartstown Community Centre

Today, a grant of €300,000 was announced for Hartstown Sports and Leisure Community in Dublin 15 as part of the Government’s Community Centre Investment Fund – the largest ever capital investment in upgrading community centres.

The Hartstown upgrade will include a rewiring of the building, installation of accessible toilets, and the repair of the stage and fire door replacements.

I was delighted to attend the announcement this morning in Hartstown Community Centre, where St. Ciarán’s School choir and Little Sparrows Preschool helped celebrate.

I want to pay tribute to all the locals involved in campaigning and fundraising to save the community centre, and thank the Hartstown Community Centre voluntary board of management for all their work. Today’s announcement is an incredibly welcome one, which will mean the centre can remain open for the community to enjoy. Well done to everyone involved.

27 projects to be funded under the 2022 LGBTI+ Community Services Fund

I was delighted to announce the 27 projects to be funded under the €1.2m LGBTI+ Community Services Fund.

This funding will support access for LGBTI+ people to supports and services which will help to improve their quality of life, and support them in realising their rights.

LGBTI+ people deserve to feel safe, visible and included in their community, and these projects aim to support a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone, and ensure LGBTI+ people can be visible in their communities.

I want to commend the work of the organisations behind the projects, and the many volunteers who support that work, in making all LGBTI+ people feel welcome and supported.

For more details on the fund and the projects being funded, you can view the Department press release:

New Deposit Return Scheme launched for bottles and cans

This week, Green Party Minister for the Circular Economy Ossian Smyth launched Ireland’s national Deposit Return Scheme.

The Deposit Return Scheme aims to boost the recycling rate for drinks bottles and cans by charging a small, refundable deposit for each plastic bottle or can. A 15c deposit will apply to cans and bottles up to 500ml and 25c on larger bottles. Customers can get this money back when they return their drinks bottle or can to a retailer of collection point to be recycled.

This Deposit Return Scheme is a great way to incentivise recycling, so that used bottles and cans can be re-used to make new drinks containers. This exciting new circular economy initiative, launched by Ossian, will save materials, energy and reduce litter on our streets – all while helping us to meet our recycling targets.

New pilot scheme providing hot meals to children in early learning and childcare settings

We are launching a new €150,000 pilot scheme to provide hot meals to children in early learning and childcare settings in areas of concentrated disadvantage.

Ensuring children can access nutritious meals & snacks is so important for their health, learning & development.

The results of the pilot scheme will inform decisions about the wider roll out of a hot meals programme, and work that is underway in my Department to develop a DEIS-type model for early learning and childcare.

Gambling Regulation Bill published

Launching the Bill at Government Buildings

I was pleased to launch a new Bill on gambling regulation with Government colleagues, which places a particular focus on protecting people who are vulnerable to problem gambling.

Gambling apps, websites, social media & gambling ads have made children and young people more exposed to gambling ads than ever.

This new law will ensure that where gambling is advertised, it is done in a way that minimises harmful influences to young people.

This is a comprehensive piece of legislation which will protect individuals and families from the risks associated with gambling addiction. For full details on what is included in the legislation, you can read the press release.

€20,000 awarded to D15 organisation Empower to fund International Protection integration project 

I am delighted to award €20,000 in International Protection Integration Funding to Empower, an organisation which has great expertise in supporting individuals in Dublin 15 with access to jobs, education, training, mentoring and in supporting social inclusion. I am very much looking forward to the rollout of their Asylum-seeker Refugee Employment Support project, which will help individuals who have come to Ireland seeking international protection to gain skills for employment and progress into the job market.

I want to commend the staff team at Empower for the work they have done, and that they continue to do in Dublin 15, strengthening community integration and breaking down the barriers that can exist in front of international protection applicants when accessing employment.

Empower is being awarded €20,000 in funding under the International Protection Integration Fund 2022. The Fund will see a total of €1.6 million awarded to 67 community-based organisations across Ireland.

Empower’s proposed project, Asylum-seeker Refugee Employment Support (ARES), aims to support international protection applicants who are being accommodated in the Fingal area to access employment. Empower will provide a range of collective and individualised supports, which will include group training in English language for employment, and manual handling and health and safety trainings. Empower will also support international protection applicants to integrate into Irish society with information on how to open bank accounts, apply for driving licences, access libraries and engage with local community groups and sports clubs.