New childcare subsidy will do little to really help women return to work

Katherine Zappone has introduced a childcare grant, but Sarah Carey argues her goals to help the poor risk being undone and will do little to help women back to work

The population’s political preferences are often categorised on spectrums, ranging from Left to Right or liberal to conservative. But when it comes to the Irish, choice is a more useful indicator of political feeling. Irish people want to choose their schools, hospitals, transport, homes and all manner of services that our relatively content socialist friends on the continent cheerfully agree should be publicly provided.

This passion for individual choice explains why we have our two-tier hospital system; GPs’ practices run as small businesses; a plethora of school types to satisfy everyone’s cultural whims; a love affair with cars; a gazillion one-off houses; and – despite the housing shortage – a refusal rate for social housing that, at one point in Cork City, hit 60pc.

This every-man-for-himself approach results in poorer outcomes for almost everyone (been on the M50 recently?), but is still largely brushed aside by the individual’s conviction that, as long as they can afford to buy what hasn’t been provided, they’ll be okay.

Don’t even think about blaming politicians for this. The system accurately reflects the will of the people. For example, imagine if Richard Bruton announced tomorrow that Ireland was going to follow the Finnish model and close one-third of our national schools and force all pupils into large schools, with a single state- patronage model, but with trained-up teachers and better facilities. The fact that this model brought Finland from the bottom to the top of OECD educational league tables would be completely ignored in favour of a hysterical revolution, the clarion cry of which would be: “Choice!”

Read the full article on The Irish Independent website