Monday 17 June 2019

New dad Peter was back in office just three days after birth of daughter Poppy

HAPPY FAMILY: Peter Neligan with partner Laura Erskine and children Lucy (7), James (10) and four-month-old Poppy. Photo: Moments Photography
HAPPY FAMILY: Peter Neligan with partner Laura Erskine and children Lucy (7), James (10) and four-month-old Poppy. Photo: Moments Photography
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

When baby Poppy was born four months ago, her father Peter Neligan was back in the office three days later.

The besotted new dad would have loved to have taken more time off but, running a busy legal practice with his father in Maynooth, Co Kildare, meant this was not possible.

"I can't tell you how much I would have relished the opportunity to be able to take an extended period of 26 weeks' paid paternity leave on the birth of my baby girl. She is my first born and I really cherish every moment I have with her," said Peter.

"To have the freedom to bond as a new dad and together as our new family unit, without the additional pressure of the daily demands of work, would have been amazing."

His partner, Laura Erskine, said she would also have liked to have had Peter around more for those first few weeks as she juggled breast-feeding her newborn and recovering from the birth while caring for her older children, Lucy (7) and James (10).

"I had Poppy on the Friday evening and the following Monday morning Peter was back to work. While he did go in a bit late to drop the other two to school and leave early for the first week, he had to be in work," she said.

Peter said: "I could have shared more of the night-time feeds without the worry of having to get up early in the morning and function for work. I would have also been able to mind Laura more in terms of making sure she ate well throughout the day and got a chance to rest during those early weeks after the birth."

He welcomed the news that Diageo will be offering all its employees, both men and women, 26 weeks of paid parental leave.

"Giving a new parent this gift of time with their new family without the worry of maintaining the household income and meeting the responsibilities of their job is quite incredible," said Peter.

Laura will return to work shortly as head of community at MummyPages.ie and has struggled to find childcare for Poppy.

Had Peter been eligible for such a generous paternity leave, Poppy would not need childcare until she was almost one, she said.

"If you were able in some way to stagger that 26 weeks it would be great. It would make sense to take it in that first year and delay the fact your child has to go into childcare," she said.

Irish Independent

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