The Carers Association has welcomed the publication of the National Carers' Strategy as an important first step.

The association says it is the first time that the Government has recognised that carers are key players in the health system.

It welcomed the commitment to revisit the strategy if the economic situation improves.

It says carers contribute around €11m every day, providing 900,000 hours of care daily and saving the State more than €4.7bn every year.

The 2011 Census found that there are more than 187,000 carers in Ireland, an increase of 16% since 2006.

The National Carers' Strategy says that while it cannot be guaranteed that any additional services or supports will be provided to carers in the short to medium term, the strategy recognises the role and contribution of carers in Ireland.

The Government pledged to strengthen awareness about the role of careers and recognise their needs through income supports.

The strategy also commits to supporting the development of supports and services to protect the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of carers.

It aims to provide better training and access to the labour market for carers and to give them access to respite breaks.