New mothers stand outside Dáil to demand longer maternity leave


New mothers and their babies met with politicians and media at the Dáil gates today to hand over a 25,500 strong Uplift petition to extend maternity leave.

Tara McDarby and her four-month-old son stood outside the Dáil gates this afternoon to make the appeal, "We need childcare solutions available to us so we can return to work. We should not have to give up our jobs. Women have the right to be in the workplace, as well as know their children are being taken care off. That’s why we’re calling on the government to extend maternity leave for another 12 weeks until things go back to normal.” 

Uplift’s Shae Flanagan added: “This group of new mums have been campaigning hard for weeks and 25 and half thousand Uplift members are behind them. They need certainty about their futures and the welfare of their babies. Our people-powered community is calling on the government to make sure families are protected.”

The petition was handed over to politicians, including TD Brid Smith, Senator Marie Sherlock and Sinn Fein party leader Mary Lou McDonald. It will be discussed in the Dáil today. 

The mums believe that their maternity leave and benefit should be extended for those who are currently on it after it was disrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown. The petition reads: "With all childcare facilities bring closed many parents face issues of where to leave their babies, with facing loosing their jobs if they have nowhere to leave them.

"Maternity leave is time when you and baby can attend baby groups, spend time with family, attend needed appointments and with a country being in lockdown none of these things are happening. Many babies have not met their family members or met other babies to socialise in baby groups, these things are vital for baby development, bonding and educating for babies and their parents.

"Due to COVID-19 many of us are scared to leave our homes and bring babies outside, with the uncertainty of when this is going to end, maternity leave and maternity benefit should be extended giving families reassurance and support."

You can sign the petition here.