A Cork TD has called on the Government to introduce maternity leave for politicians in Ireland stressing “maternity leave is not a perk, it is not a pay rise, it is a human right.”
Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns raised the issue in the Dáil and outlined how councillors, TDs and Senators do not have currently have access to maternity leave provisions.
The Cork South West TD highlighted how in 2017 a bill was put forward to provide paid maternity leave for city and county councillors, but she said that this bill had lapsed.
“When I tell people this they literally don’t believe me,” she said.
Deputy Cairns said that female dominated industries were “often the undervalued and underpaid ones” and said “we have to ask if there were more women at the decision making table would this be the case, and if there were maternity provisions for female politicians would there be more women at these decision making tables.”
She also suggested that the lack of maternity leave provisions for female politicians could also present a barrier to pursuing a career in politics.
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin committed to examine the issue saying “it should be provided”.
In a subsequent post on social media this evening, Deputy Cairns admitted that it can be difficult to raise issues such as this when you are a woman of child-bearing age because “some people automatically assume that you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.”
The TD added “if you believe the rumours I’ve been pregnant for about two years straight now.”
However, she stressed she was not going to let fear stop her from highlighting the issue.
“The lack of any maternity leave whatsoever for councillors, TDs and Senators is a disgrace,” she said.