Exclusion of adoptive and parental leave is a missed opportunity 

A Bill to provide maternity leave entitlements to councillors falls short of the level of reform required to encourage more women to enter politics, according to Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns.

Deputy Cairns was speaking in advance of a debate on the second stage of the Local Government (Maternity Protection and Other Measures for Members of Local Authorities) Bill 2022 in the Dáil today.

“Women make up less than a quarter of TDs in the Dáil, with similar low levels of representation in local authorities across the country. If we want to increase the number of women participating in Irish political life, then we need to identify all the barriers so we can work to remove them.

“The lack of maternity leave provision for councillors is one such barrier. I welcome that progress has been made on this issue and the Bill will address this anomaly by treating elected members as employees for the purposes of entitlement to maternity leave. It also allows for temporary co-option while a councillor is on leave.

“However, the Bill is a wasted opportunity to bring in more far-reaching reforms in time for the 2024 Local Elections.

“I had previously introduced a Private Members’ Bill in the Dáil, not only seeking full maternity entitlements for councillors, but also parental and adoptive leave. These measures are inexplicably excluded from the legislation we are debating today, which is a very short-sighted approach by the Government.

“Parental and adoptive leave recognise the diversity of family life, and they are gender neutral. The exclusion of men from the Bill completely sends out the wrong message and simply reinforces the role of a woman as the primary care giver.

“The positive aspects of this Bill will be diluted by the Government’s failure to address other significant impediments to women running for political office.”

December 1, 2022

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