The Department of Health and Children hopes to extend the length of paid leave for parents after the birth of each child to one year over the next five years.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said ensuring that parents have one year of paid leave by 2018 will be dependent on resources.

It follows the release of the Expert Advisory Group's report on the Early Years Strategy

Ms Fitzgerald said: "Clearly business will have a view on this. Getting to 26 weeks paid maternity leave was very hard.

"I fought as an opposition TD when it was down at 12 weeks so we have seen great improvements, but do I think that should be the vision over five years? Yes."

The report recommends an increased length of paid leave for parents, introduced incrementally. The group is advising that 12 months' paid leave should be available within five years.

There is currently no statutory provision in Ireland for paternity leave.

The group recommends that leave after 26 weeks be available to either parent and that two weeks' paid paternity leave should be available when a child is born.

Separately, Minister Fitzgerald reiterated her commitment to ensuring that childcare staff working with children in early years will have a minimum level of training.

"We have a target of 2014 for FETAC level 5 for everybody in the new services and for all employees by 2015. I think its progressive after that," she said