The Government has accepted the principle of Fianna Fáil proposals to extend the maternity cover for female TDs, offering them the same rights as other workers.
The Maternity Protection Bill 2013, tabled by party whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl, aims to encourage greater female participation in politics. The Bill will now be referred Oireachtas Committee on Rules and Procedures to work out practical details.
Introducing the Bill in the Dáil today, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Enterprise Dara Calleary said, “This is a simple measure to address an historic Oireachtas oversight, but it touches on the far more important issue of widening participation in politics.
“At the very heart of a democratic State is the ideal that all citizens are equally entitled to participate in shaping the collective decisions which bind us all. Our constitution reflects this aspiration declaring that “every citizen without distinction of sex” will be eligible for election to Dáil Éireann. In order to breathe life into these words we need to ensure that the political process is open and accessible to both men and women.
“A system that inhibits full participation by over half of the population cannot be said to be a genuinely democratic State. Greater female representation in the Dáil would improve the quality of political decision-making; it would deliver more effective representation for women voters; and it would send out a strong message that gender equality is an essential requirement of social justice.
“This Bill is one step towards achieving those goals. Facilitating fair and equal maternity rights will ensure that women are not penalised by a work regime that reflects an archaic male centred set of work practices. The current oversight is indicative of a completely outdated approach to the business of the Oireachtas. This is one simple piece legislation that must form part of a broader approach to widen out political participation.”