Written Answers. - Child Care Services.

John Cregan

Ceist:

70 Mr. Cregan asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding the provision of crèche or child care facilities for staff in the Defence Forces; if same can be provided; if formal requests for such services have been made; and if the demands will be met. [19301/03]

The issue of workplace child care has been addressed in recent national wage agreements under the social partnership heading. Following agreement with the Defence Forces representative associations, the provisions of the P2000 and PPF national wage agreements were extended to members of the Defence Forces. It is anticipated that the representative associations will also accept the new national wage agreement, Sustaining Progress, in the near future.

As part of the child care initiative, a series of Civil Service crèches are being opened. The first of these opened in Marlborough Street, Dublin, in January 2003 and the next will open at Cornamaddy, Athlone, in August 2003. While these crèches are primarily for the children of civil servants, applications will also be accepted from employees of certain public service bodies, including the Defence Forces.

The request to provide crèche facilities for members of the Defence Forces has been raised by both of the Defence Forces representative associations in the context of developments in the public service generally. By agreement with the associations, discussions under the conciliation and arbitration scheme are confidential to the parties involved. Accordingly, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on this issue at present.