*Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne (SF). Photograph: John Mangan
Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) who is expecting her sixth child this Spring has criticised a lack of provision for members of the Oireachtas to take maternity leave which she felt was turning women off entering politics.
Deputy Wynne who became the first Sinn Féin TD in Clare since 1922 has revealed to The Clare Echo that her upcoming maternity leave is likely to be a very short one as she anticipates to be back in Dáil Éireann “voting as soon as possible”.
She will become the first Clare TD to give birth while in office next year and has hit out at the lack of legislation in place to support pregnant women in the Oireachtas. “Currently there is no facility for Oireachtas members to avail of statutory maternity leave. They are excluded from the Maternity Leave Protection Act because they are required to be present to vote and therefore are required to be in the Dáil”.
Violet-Anne told The Clare Echo she was hopeful of bringing a bill before the Dáil on maternity provision for politicians but acknowledged that this would not be in place prior to the arrival of her sixth child. During her research of the topic, the Kilrush woman discovered that a TD in the thirty second Dáil “had a baby and she submitted sick certs for two weeks and returned to work after that”.
Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee (FG) is currently on maternity leave, she became the first serving Minister to give birth, doing so in April of this year. She remains a member of Government, albeit as a Cabinet Minister without portfolio during the duration of her leave. “This is not a permanent solution and not one that we would advocate for. There should be legislation for maternity leave and this gap must be filled,” Deputy Wynne commented.
No such arrangement is in place for the Clare TD as of yet, she confirmed. Wynne flagged that with this being her sixth child it is a “completely different” scenario to a mother expecting their first born. “I’m confident in my pregnancy and my experience, it is going fairly well. I don’t think I’ll need as much time as someone who is expecting their first or second child”. She said the upcoming arrival came as a pleasant surprise for her and her partner John.
Her role as a TD for the people of Clare is “too big a responsibility for me to stay at home,” the Offaly native said. “I envisage that I am going to be back voting in the Dáil as soon as possible”.
Wynne who is only Clare’s third ever female TD outlined that little efforts have been made “to reconcile being a mother and being a politician”. She added, “The current arrangements act as a serious deterrent to women entering politics. The simple fact is that the rules were drawn up in the main by men and this is why they do not take account of women in the Oireachtas as members”.