Tuesday 22 August 2017

Councillors could take their children to meetings under new proposals

Cllr Claire Byrne had been told she could not take her three-month-old son to a meeting. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Cllr Claire Byrne had been told she could not take her three-month-old son to a meeting. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Babies will be accompanying their politician parents to meetings of Dublin City Council, under new proposals which are likely to pass this week.

The protocol committee of the council has been considering the provision of facilities for both younger and older children, to help out councillors juggling parenting and politics.

Transforming a men's toilet into a breastfeeding and baby-changing area, and allowing parents have their babies sit with them during meetings, are among the proposals. Older children will sit in the public gallery.

However, councillors will be expected to take their babies out of the chamber if they get upset or are causing disruption during council meetings.

The genesis of the proposals was an incident in which Green Party councillor Claire Byrne was told she could not bring her three-month-old son to a meeting. She welcomed the new proposals, which are expected to be enacted.

"I think it's great, I think it's a really progressive step," she told the Irish Independent.

"For me, I was breastfeeding when we were going through the city development plan.

"It was 10-hour days, which is difficult when you're feeding."

"It's not about using the council chamber as a childcare facility, but it will help if you're really, really stuck."

Addressing the issue of possible disruptions to council meetings, she said parents would leave if there was a problem.

"Obviously if a child is screaming its head off, you're not going to stay in the chamber," she said.

Chairman of the protocol committee Dermot Lacey pointed out that many councillors were now working as full-time representatives.

"If you were to pay a child minder, you won't see much out of your €16,000-a-year," he said.

Irish Independent

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