Talk about the perfect excuse not to have to attend a work meeting!
New Ross Cathaoirleach Cllr Bridín Murphy would – in normal circumstances – have been chairing the body’s monthly municipal meeting last Wednesday, but instead was giving birth to her first born – an entirely different kind of motion than the ones she faces at work!
As the Clonroche woman is a councillor she technically has no maternity leave – a fact she plans to push to overturn with female colleagues across the country – when she returns to work, this weekend.
The arrival of baby Ava Mai Mernagh at 3.06 p.m. brought untold joy for her parents, Bridín and Philip Mernagh.
“I was induced and had Ava by C-section four days before her due date. It was almost surreal picking her up in my arms. You have this little creature inside you for nine months.
“On the Monday and Tuesday before, I started thinking about what she was going to look like. I’m not an emotional person or one to cry – but when I saw her I did.”
With Philip at her side, she welcomed her daughter into the world.
“There were no words. You have just created something very special. It was quite surreal.”
Weighing 8lbs 7, Ava was in perfect health and is home now in Clonroche with her adoring parents since Saturday.
“I can’t thank the midwives and team at Wexford General Hospital enough. They were really accommodating with Philip, meaning he could stay with us quite late.”
Just ten days after giving birth to Ava, Cllr Murphy – who is also a full time social worker – is bracing herself for the return to work.
“My understanding is that legislation will be passed in the Dáil before summer recess for female councillors to have either six months maternity leave – like all council staff – or a secretary to do a lot of the admin work. I’ve already had emails and missed calls for my constituency work and have an automated response. Some people don’t know I’ve had a baby.”
For Cllr Murphy this week has been all about rest and recuperation.
“I’m still getting back on my feet. As a councillor, the world very much continues to spin. I have to make a decision in the next couple of days on how much work I’m going to do. I’m still cathaoirleach and I know Anthony (Connick) has been doing a fantastic job as leas cathaoirleach over recent weeks, but I’ve commitments.”
Former justice minister Helen McEntee famously was able to have paid maternity leave last year as legislation was changed in the Oireachtas.
“It hasn’t crossed the right tables for councillors. The Taoiseach nearly died when I told him at the Killowen announcement that I was due in a few days.
“I have to be very mindful of my schedule at the moment as there is an awful lot of sleep deprivation. These are natural things that many women will go through.”
Cllr Murphy said Ireland needs to start having a proper conversation about enabling young women to enter politics.
“It’s shocking that we’re only starting to have this conversation. Scandinavian countries are so advanced, by comparison. We haven’t made the necessary changes (in Ireland). Women in their twenties and thirties are thinking about having a family and should be also able to think about entering politics.”
Cllr Murphy (37) said she was really touched when some young women in New Ross approached her to tell her she was an inspiration having noticed her bump recently.
“They told me that what I was doing was really groundbreaking. It’s really important to change the rule book now, but for them to come up to me and to me that they felt anything was possible, seeing me with the chains of office and my bump, was special.
“I think it reflects positively on the New Ross district to have a pregnant woman and now a mother with the chains of office.”