You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Dublin council demands maternity leave for all sitting councillors as women back in work just weeks after giving birth

Dublin Live logo Dublin Live 04/02/2021 Amy Donohoe

Dublin City councils' women’s committee are demanding that maternity leave be brought in for all sitting councillors - as women are back in work just weeks after giving birth.

The current lack of leave has been described as unjust and discriminatory as TDs, senators, and councillors currently have no right to take this leave.

The group which is made up of women from different parties, believe that the current situation is unjust and goes against the Employment Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment-related settings, including family status.

They have written to the Department of Children and Department of Housing calling for urgent changes to be made.

Chair of the DCC Women's Committee, Councillor Darcy Lonergan told Newstalk Breakfast: "At the moment, a lot of (new mothers) are just rushing back - Councillor Claire Byrne and Councillor Janice Boylan came back to work after two weeks, Donna Cooney came back to work after a couple of days."

"They feel this pressure to come back to work cause there is no maternity leave, and there's nothing set up there like a substitute system or proxy vote.

"So by them not being there, they're leaving their constituents voiceless, they're not there for votes."

She highlighted that many councillors feel pressure to return to work and miss out on time with their babies as a result of going back to work too soon.

She said: "An ideal system would allow for a substitute so our constituents are still represented and we don't feel pressure and guilt about taking the time that we and our baby need."

Councillor Lonergan said they have written to officials asking them to look into what can be done.

She continued: "Personally speaking, I would like a substitute system, I think it's kind of the only way to go.

"It means that we feel relaxed, our e-mails are still getting answered, we're represented at meetings."

She said this approach could also give allow for more people to get into politics.

She said: "I don't know if it's a deterrent, I think maybe (for) people who have children it might be a deterrent.

"For someone like myself who doesn't, it's not a deterrent to going in - but it would be deterrent for me staying in".

The group has previously campaigned to set up a parenting room in City Hall and they have fought to change the rules to allow babies into meetings due to the lack of maternity leave and childcare facilities.

The committee believes there are grounds under the Local Government Act 2001 and employment acts to legislate for maternity leave.

Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne said she was back in the council chamber just two weeks after having her children.

She said: “When I think back I have no idea how I did that after the first one as I had been back in hospital with complications and had only been back out a few days.

"With no maternity leave, and no remote or proxy voting, as a new mother you are completely compromised in trying to keep up your role as councillor and balance motherhood."

Sinn Fein councillor Janice Boylan said: ”Rushing back to my council role didn’t help me and I suffered a bout of postpartum depression. I believe then and I believe now that we need full maternity leave entitlements."

a close up of a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Janice Boylan © DCC Janice Boylan

Labour Councillor Jane Horgan Jones said she was admitted to hospital shortly after giving birth, but this was the same day votes were cast for Lord Mayor.

"It was awkward as my vote was needed as part of the Dublin Agreement and people outside my group weren’t sure why I hadn’t turned up."

Last year, Justice Minister Helen McEntee she was "absolutely determined" to get maternity leave in place for women in politics.

Minister McEntee is currently pregnant and is the first Cabinet minister in the history of the State to be expecting a child while in Government.

a woman smiling for the camera: Minister for Justice Helen Mcentee TD during Budget 2019 Press conference on Brexit in the Govenrment Press Cenre, Dublin © Gareth Chaney/Collins Minister for Justice Helen Mcentee TD during Budget 2019 Press conference on Brexit in the Govenrment Press Cenre, Dublin

For the latest news and breaking news visit dublinlive.ie/news.

Get all the big headlines, pictures, analysis, opinion and video on the stories that matter to you.

Follow us on Twitter @DublinLive - the official Dublin Live Twitter account - real news in real time.

We're also on Facebook/dublinliveonline - your must-see news, features, videos and pictures throughout the day from the capital.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Dublin Live

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon