Wednesday 24 October 2018

TDs and Senators allowed to breastfeed in Dáil and Seanad chambers for the first time

Independent.ie highlighted the issue in an exclusive special feature two weeks ago

Catherine Martin
Catherine Martin
Green Party Deputy leader Catherine Martin TD with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD at Government Buildings, Dublin today.Pic Stephen Collins/ Collins Photos.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

TDs and Senators will now be allowed to breastfeed in the Dáil and Seanad chambers for the first time.

Green Party TD Catherine Martin was informed in a letter dated March 9 last week, that TDs and Senators will now be allowed to breastfeed their infants while sitting in the chambers.

Up until now, the Oireachtas policy was such that noone except TDs and Senators themselves were allowed inside the chambers.

Independent.ie highlighted the issue in an exclusive special feature two weeks ago.

Thanks to the announcement, Ireland now joins the likes of Australia and Iceland, where parliaments accommodate breastfeeding politicians.

There are no maternity or paternity leave entitlements for TDs and Senators in Ireland.

The clerk to Dáil Committee on Procedure stated in a letter to deputy Martin: “I have to inform you that it is permissible for a mother to breastfeed an infant in the chamber while the Dáil is in session.”

The clerk Noreen Banim added: “The Ceann Comhairle has no objection to a mother using the robing room for that purpose during the morning.”

Members of the Committee on Procedure have been requested to inform their parties or groups accordingly, and the Superintendent of the Houses has also been informed, she said.

Deputy Martin told Independent.ie: “I’m delighted that this has being discussed and agreed. It should always have been that way. We’re now showing that the leadership that needs to be shown.”

Ireland has the lowest rate for breastfeeding in Europe.

She wrote in her letter to the Committee, asking that breastfeeding be allowed in both chambers: "The reasons behind a reluctance to breastfeed in our society are rooted in cultural choices across generations. It is up to us to lead in changing this culture, and that begins here in the Oireachtas."

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