Maternity cover locums for public representatives are needed

I have called for an examination of maternity cover locums as a support for public representatives.

This week, Stella Creasy MP will become the first member of the British Parliament to employ a locum while she is on maternity leave.

The locum will carry out the day to day office duties and campaign commitments that are incurred in public office. This is a normal practice in many other professions, however, the political system remains rigid in this respect.

Currently women make up 22% of the Dail and 30% of the Seanad, we should be doing everything we can to encourage more young women to engage with politics and to enter public life. However, I fear that we will not see the significant rise in these numbers until we have a system that will respect the needs of individuals.

This will require flexible systems in place that will allow female politicians to be able to start a family and continue their career, it will also require a range of other reforms including tackling online abuse on social media.

While Stella Creasy will be the first MP to use a locum, other European Parliaments already use similar systems.

There is no reason that Ireland cannot create a family friendly parliament in line with other European countries.

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