Commenting on the Government’s Rural Future plan today, Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore called for the provision of drop-in childcare facilities at the working hubs proposed under the initiative.

Deputy Whitmore said:

“Working hubs with high-speed broadband form a central plank of the Government’s plan to re-energise rural communities and make it viable for people to work in local communities outside our main urban centres. Covid-19 has led to a seismic shift in employment practices and working from home is set to become a permanent feature of many of our lives when the pandemic is behind us.

“However, slow or non-existent broadband connection have made the transition to remote working next to impossible for many people living in rural Ireland. The Government’s plan to develop a network of working hubs with high-speed broadband will go some way to addressing this issue.

“But for many rural families, poor access to childcare is another barrier to employment, particularly for women wanting to return to the workforce. That is why I believe the Government needs to consider the provision of drop-in childcare facilities in tandem with the working hubs proposed under the plan.

“Such a model could operate similar to creche facilities in shopping centres, where parents have the option of dropping their children off on an hourly basis while they work at the hubs.

“Investment in our rural communities, while welcome, must be underpinned by child-centred initiatives that put family life front and centre of policy.”

March 29, 2021

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