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*Senator Roisin Garvey. Photograph: John Mangan

MORE WOMEN will be inclined to enter politics following approval for the provision of maternity leave for councillors across the country, a Clare Senator has said.

On Tuesday, Cabinet approved a scheme to allow county and city councillors to take paid maternity leave and will give them the choice to appoint an individual as a temporary substitute in their absence for twenty six weeks.

Currently female councillors are office-holders rather than employees and are not covered by the statutory framework for employees on issues such as maternity leave. By making a legislative provision for female councillors to access maternity leave under the Maternity Protection Act 1994, councillors will be entitled to the same rights as female employees, and those with the relevant PRSI contributions.

Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) is one of two female Oireachtas members for Clare, in 2019 she became the first woman elected to the Ennistymon local electoral area of Clare County Council. “This legislation could not come quick enough. In my work I encourage women to become engaged in politics. It is very difficult to do so when there are no maternity supports. I hope that this will lead to more women considering becoming councillors. When only four of twenty-eight councillors in Clare are women, we have a lot of work to do to improve gender balance,” she stated.

“In the Green Party, half of our elected representatives are women. This scheme will allow for the increased participation of women in local government, which will have a positive knock-on effect for politics at large. An equal Ireland can only be achieved when we have women’s voices at the highest offices in local government and beyond,” the Inagh native added.

Following Cabinet approval, the draft legislation will be prepared and will pass through the Oireachtas in the near future.

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