Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has accused Fine Gael of being disingenuous about its commitment to increase supports for parents.  She made the claim following the government’s decision to block a Fianna Fáil Bill, which would allow mothers to share their maternity leave entitlements with their partner, if it suits them.

This week the Dáil will vote on the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill 2018, and while TDs from the opposition benches are supporting it, the government is set to block it.

Deputy Smyth explained, “This progressive Bill marks an important move towards broadening parental choice, promoting gender equality and supporting a healthy-work life balance.  It allows parents to decide what suits them best, rather than having the terms of their maternity leave dictated to them.  In some instances it may suit a couple better to have both partners share maternity leave, particularly in cases whereby the mother is self-employed and simply cannot afford to take the full maternity leave term, or if she is the main breadwinner and wants to return to work earlier.

“Furthermore, many fathers now want to play a more active role in their child’s life – and studies show that those who do are more likely to share child-rearing duties later on.

“Let me be absolutely clear about this – the legislation does not mandate that mothers must share any or all of their leave, but rather gives mothers a choice to allocate a portion of their maternity benefit to the child’s other parent, if they so wish.

“I am deeply disappointed by the government’s refusal to support this Bill.  Yesterday Ministers attended yet another launch, this time promising a “broader range of options for parents to balance working and caring” and “a new model of parenting support”.  If they were serious about delivering on those commitments, they could start by supporting our Bill.

“The vote on this legislation takes place on Thursday and I am urging government Ministers and TDs to use the time between now and then to reconsider their position on this important issue and support our Bill”.