Thursday 8 December 2016

Councillors to argue that 'they should be able to bring kids to meetings'

Patrick Kelleher

Published 30/11/2016 | 10:55

Dublin City Council buildings (Photo: Google Maps)
Dublin City Council buildings (Photo: Google Maps)

Councillors will debate whether parents should be allowed to bring children into city council meetings and also whether breastfeeding should be permitted.

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Patrick Costello, Green Party councillor for Rathgar-Rathmines, has tabled a motion for tomorrow's protocol committee, which says: "Dublin City Council shall do its utmost to facilitate councillors with young children who bring their children to meetings, and shall have particular regard to facilitate councillors who are breastfeeding".

"We don't have a typical nine to five job. There can be a lot of last-minute meetings, there can be lots of meetings that go late at night," Mr Costello told the Herald.

"If you're not going to facilitate mothers of young children, especially single mothers, those are two voices you're never going to get into the chamber.

"I wouldn't have an issue with breastfeeding in the chamber but I think we need to look at what will suit people who are breastfeeding.

"Certainly, in other jobs, I've been in meetings with people breastfeeding. I don't see why we couldn't have that."

The ban on children in the chamber is a major issue for his party colleague Claire Byrne.

Ms Byrne has a six-month-old son and she says the rules preventing her from bringing him into meetings can stop her from doing her job.

"As a councillor, it's not a very structured schedule, so it just makes it very difficult for the times where you maybe don't have anybody to look after your child," she said.

"It puts you at a bit of a disadvantage, politically. It means you can't do your job and you can't represent the people that you're elected to represent.

"I'm not suggesting for one minute that we turn the council chamber into a creche, but I just feel that there needs to be some flexibility."

PBP Cllr Tina MacVeigh is the single mother of a 12-year-old girl and said she faced safety concerns from officials when she wanted to bring her daughter to sit in the public gallery.

Herald

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