Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Anne Rabbitte TD has introduced a Bill to expand maternity leave rights to local councillors across Ireland. Currently, Local Authority Members are not eligible to take maternity leave and are removed from the Council if they are absent for over 6 months.
This Bill provides for 26 weeks paid maternity leave, together with 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave, which begins immediately after the end of maternity leave. Essentially, it will bring Councillors in line with employees in companies and organisations across the country.
Deputy Rabbitte explained, “Only 23% of TDs in our Dáil are women and childcare costs remain a key impediment to attracting and retaining greater numbers of women into politics. Local Government is a key stepping stone to national politics as well as a central part of local decision making but many women are discouraged from entering the political world because of the lack of supports available.
“At the moment a Councillor can be removed from the Council if they are absent for more than six months after having a baby. My Bill will help ensure female Councillors can take maternity leave, as is the case in any other line of work.
“A number of Councillors have raised this issue over the past number of months, and unless this situation is addressed, we will be facing an increasingly difficult challenge in attracting more women into local politics.
“This Fianna Fáil Bill takes clear action to get rid of one of the barriers to female participation. It will enable Councillors to take the same amount of paid leave that other employment sectors offer and removes the limbo which currently exists. The Bill is a democratic measure to make sure both men and women are heard in local decision making processes.
“I hope other parties get behind my Bill and will work with me to strengthen it over the coming months. It is a small step in the right direction, which will hopefully encourage more women into local politics by removing artificial obstacles which have been blocking their way”, Deputy Rabbitte concluded.