Fianna Fáil TDs Lisa Chambers and Fiona O’Loughlin have called on the government to reverse its decision to oppose their Bill on shared maternity leave ahead of a vote on the legislation on Thursday.
Last week TDs debated the Shared Maternity Benefit & Leave Bill 2018, which will allow mothers to share their maternity leave with their partners, if they so choose. Despite widespread support from other opposition parties and TDs, the government has decided to oppose it.
Deputy Chambers commented, “Yesterday the government launched a ten year strategy which it claims will deliver a “broader range of options for parents to balance working and caring” and “a new model of parenting support”. It seems ironic that while on the one hand we have Minister Katherine Zappone saying that both parents should have the option of staying home in their child’s first year if they want to, the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection Regina Doherty actively blocks Fianna Fáil’s Shared Maternity Benefit & Leave Bill, which would go a long way to achieving this.
“Last week, Minister Doherty’s reasons for opposing our Bill ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. In fact, she didn’t even stay in the Dáil Chamber to listen to the other TDs who put forward their reasons for supporting the legislation. The fact of the matter is that for all the spin, announcements and rehashed strategies, this government is simply not interested in supporting mothers who need or want to return to work before their maternity leave is over. The fact that Fine Gael appears not to trust mothers to make that decision for themselves is extremely insulting”.
Deputy O’Loughlin added, “I find the government’s latest strategy completely disingenuous. If it wanted to make a difference to working parents, a very simply step to take would be to support our Bill. However, less than a week after announcing that it would be opposing the Fianna Fáil legislation, we see Ministers lining up for photo ops and interviews to claim that they have a strategy to support families.
“This government needs to be more honest with parents. If it genuinely wanted to make a difference to families, it would support this Bill. The opportunity has not been lost – the vote is not until Thursday. We are calling on the government to rethink their stance and ensure unanimous support for this important legislation”.