Dublin Rathdown T.D. and Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin T.D. welcomed the support of all parties and groupings in the Dáil for the Green Party motion on extending the maternity leave and benefit of mothers of premature babies, but warned the Government it must follow up on their supportive words during the Dáil debate with meaningful action in Budget 2018.

As all parties and groupings supported the motion, no vote was needed, and the motion passed.

Speaking following the debate, Deputy Martin said: “I am delighted that this motion was supported unanimously in the Dáil. I am delighted for the mothers and fathers of premature babies all over the country who have been through the difficulties we heard highlighted in the debate. Today, the Dáil is united in seeking a fairer way for mothers of premature babies.

“Extending maternity leave and maternity benefit for mothers of premature babies will give huge support at a time of massive upheaval and stress. This in turn will lead to better postnatal health, a better outcome for the baby and eventually a more positive return to work. That mothers aren’t getting this support already is truly awful because when premature babies finally get discharged from hospital they need their mothers more than ever and their mothers need to be with them too.

“All parties spoke in favour of this motion today – but these words must be backed up by action from Government in Budget 2018. The measures we have proposed tonight will only cost in the region of €5 million per annum. We will be pushing to have them implemented as soon as possible.”