Government accused of instructing senators to oppose parental leave bill
Plans to extend unpaid leave for working parents from 18 weeks to six months may be in jeopardy after the Government was accused of opposing them.
The age of children for whom leave can be granted would also rise from eight to 12 under measures proposed in a bill that has passed through the Dáil.
If passed into law, the bill would give working parents trying to balance work and home life more flexibility.
But a row has erupted after the bill reached the Seanad. The Social Democrats who drafted it claimed Government ministers instructed Fine Gael senators to oppose it at the last minute.
Róisín Shortall, who drew up the bill, claimed a Cabinet decision was taken to oppose the bill and senators were required to follow instructions, so it was withdrawn. "It seems that this is a delaying tactic by Government and they're not prepared to follow it through despite a commitment given in the Early Years Strategy, which was to do exactly this," she said.
A Department of Justice spokesperson said the bill was scheduled for debate in the Seanad on December 19. "But on hearing that the Government would not be issuing the money message required for the legislation to be enacted, the bill's sponsors withdrew it," she said, adding a number of departments raised "issues", which need clarifying.