A new scheme which provides maternity leave for County Kildare councillors will be positive for all women wishing to pursue a career in politics, Fine Gael Kildare South TD and Minister of State Martin Heydon has said.

“My colleague, Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, is introducing a scheme to provide maternity leave for councillors, which is an extremely welcome development. This means that female councillors in County Kildare and around the Country can appoint a temporary substitute for a maternity-related absence.

“Currently Councillors in County Kildare are not classified as employees, meaning they are not covered by the statutory framework on issues such as maternity leave.

“This scheme provides access to maternity leave under the Maternity Protection Act 1994. County Kildare councillors will be entitled to the same rights as female employees, and those with the relevant PRSI contributions.

“The proposal to allow for a temporary substitute will address situations where councillors feel pressure to turn up to important votes or debates or fulfil their community representative role, when they would really prefer or need to be at home caring for their new baby or recovering themselves.

“I hope it will also encourage more women into politics as it remvoes another obstacle to female participation and makes the role of councillor more accessible for many women.

“Fine Gael is working to build stronger, safer communities. Our councillors make a hugely valuable contribution to local communities across County Kildare and Fine Gael in Government will continue to ensure they are supported.”