Women should not be forced to choose between being a politician or a mother

Urgent legislative action is required to allow public representatives to avail of maternity and paternity leave, Minister Josepha Madigan has said.

The Dublin-Rathdown TD and mother of two boys said the absence of such supports represents a major barrier for young people who wish to pursue a career in politics and sends out an inappropriate message – especially to young women.

“Last week’s joyous news that my colleague, Minister McEntee, is expecting her first child has further highlighted the urgent need to provide basic supports to any public representative who wishes to start a family.

“At present, public representatives are not permitted to avail of this basic and much-needed family support.

“If we are serious about addressing the serious gender imbalance that we are currently seeing at representative level in the Oireachtas and in many local authorities, then meaningful action should be taken to include politicians as eligible recipients of maternity and paternity supports.

“Any parent will tell you that spending the first few weeks with a newborn baby is one of the most special moments that life can bring. Fine Gael, in Government, has made great strides to ensure that is possible for more and more families – including the introduction of parental leave, which was increased to five weeks in the most recent Budget.

“I am well aware that complex issues will arise in terms of political representation – however, I am confident that ways can be found to overcome them.

“A woman should never have to choose between being a politician or a mother – just ask Jacinda Ardern.”