Taoiseach Micheal Martin promises law change so Helen McEntee can take maternity leave

Minister Helen McEntee will have maternity leave to spend time with her newborn even if it means changing the law. The Minister for Just...

Minister Helen McEntee will have maternity leave to spend time with her newborn even if it means changing the law.

The Minister for Justice is due to give birth to her first child in early summer, but the Victorian rules of the Irish political system don’t allow time off for political mothers.

But now Micheál Martin is set to drag the Dáil into the 21st century as he has promised to make sure the rules are changed to allow the new mother her deserved leave.

He said the status quo “doesn’t reflect well on a modern democracy.”

And the Taoiseach is adamant, saying that even if a referendum is required to change the law, he is ready to act.

17/09/2020 An Taoiseach Micheal Martin TD at Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin.

Mr Martin told reporters in the traditional Taoiseach’s Christmas interview: “It may very well require a referendum and perhaps should.”

He was responding to a sticky query from a journalist who was pulling the Taoiseach up on the potential unconstitutionality of allowing a Justice Minister parental leave.

Mr Martin is gung-ho to change the old-fashioned rules of the Dáil and Government.

He added: “There are issues there of a constitutional nature in terms of a member of the House, for example, as a TD or senator and as a Minister.

“And I think it doesn’t reflect well on a modern democracy that we cannot facilitate a woman going on maternity leave in ministerial office.

“I think that’s something we should rectify.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

“The precise mechanisms to rectify that we are still examining.

“We will have to do some interim measures.

“I’m not talking just in the context of Helen McEntee, because Helen herself would want us to do it generally as a basic, necessary modern reform of our parliamentary democracy and also to make life, the quality of life, better for all concerned including paternity leaves as well.

“So it’s not good enough and we need to change it.

“My view is that having examined all the details, we should change it at different levels or stages, I mean we have to do whatever is required in Helen’s context within the framework of the Constitution and so on.

Leinster House, Dail Eireann

“But to deliberate more broadly may require a constitutional referendum.

“It may not, and we’ll be in discussions with the Attorney General on that.”

The Taoiseach was cheekily asked if he had any ideas in mind of who might be subbing-in as a temporary Justice Minister for Helen if required later this year.

But he wasn’t going to be drawn on that one in Christmas week.

He smiled as he said: “We haven’t that quite worked out yet.”

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Newsrust: Taoiseach Micheal Martin promises law change so Helen McEntee can take maternity leave
Taoiseach Micheal Martin promises law change so Helen McEntee can take maternity leave
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