Cllr Mary O’Halloran has voiced serious concern over the fact that childcare costs, in these recessionary times, are moving way beyond the means of many young families.

In many instances, she said, parents are paying up to €1,700 a month for care for two children. “This”, she said, “is a huge financial burden with the costs for some families running to almost a third of net income – for many it is almost equivalent to a second mortgage”.

Furthermore, she claimed, the expense of childcare was a disincentive to women to work, although the economic climate in Ireland presently dictated that both parents work to sustain an average lifestyle and fund a mortgage.

She argued: “While society pays lip service to the importance of children and parenting, this is not consistently reflected in public policy to support parents.

The majority of companies do not have family friendly policies which would help families and sometimes there is little or no understanding of the problems experienced by working mothers and indeed fathers trying to juggle work and children in the most complex manner.

“As a woman I feel there should be broader policies to support women in employment such as leave entitlements and flexible workplace policies. This in turn should ease the pressures on the working mother who are sometimes driven to distraction trying to match childcare with budgets, their working day and their household duties”.

The former Mayor called on the Government to introduce a tax credit against vouched child-care expenses which would ease the burden for working parents.