The Green Party today warmly welcomed the extension of maternity leave and benefits for the mothers of premature babies in today’s Budget.
The Green Party’s Dáil motion calling for such an extension was passed unanimously back in April.
Speaking today, Green Party Deputy Leader and TD for Dublin Rathdown, Catherine Martin, said: “We warmly welcome the extension of maternity leave and benefits for the mothers of premature babies in today’s Budget. 4,500 babies are born prematurely in Ireland every year, and this move will make a huge positive difference at an incredibly difficult time for mothers affected.
“Under current legislation the mother of a premature baby, despite being shattered and exhausted after an unexpected and prolonged roller-coaster experience, will have used up the majority of her maternity leave before her baby even makes the first long awaited journey home. Extending maternity leave and maternity benefit for mothers of premature babies will give support needed at a time of such upheaval and stress. This in turn will lead to better postnatal health and a better outcome for the baby.
“I want to extend my thanks to Ministers Charlie Flanagan and Regina Doherty, who have worked together to bring this proposal to cabinet. When I approached Minister Flanagan on this issue after his appointment he was very keen to make the proposal work. Often, politics can be about competition, and opposition for the sake of it. I’m glad to see that in this case, affecting some of Ireland’s most vulnerable citizens, political differences were put aside, and the proposal came to fruition. This is a perfect example of how ‘New Politics can work.”
The charity Irish Premature Babies welcomed the implementation of the support for parents of premature babies in today's budget. Dion Tallant, Chairperson of Irish Premature Babies, said: "This is a momentous day for the rights and entitlements of parents of premature babies. Irish Premature Babies also wants to thank all the hard work done by the Green Party on this issue."