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Deputy McNamara has called for an end to anomalies in maternity benefit payments.

Clare TD says women being penalised for having children

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SCARIFF-based TD Michael McNamara has described anomalies in maternity benefit as “a penalisation of women for having children”. 

In a Dáil debate on policy and legislation, the Independent TD raised the matter with Tanáiste Leo Varadkar, noting the poor rate of maternity benefit in I

reland compared to other EU states or other OECD states. “In Ireland, the average proportion of previous earnings that maternity benefit accounts for is 25.2%,” Deputy McNamara pointed out. “It is one of the lowest rates in the OECD and the EU. During the pandemic, people were coming off pandemic payments of €330 per week and being reduced to €250 because they had just had a child. That is a penalisation of women for having children.”

Deputy McNamara questioned the Tanáiste on moves to address the anomaly. “There will be a proposal coming to the Cabinet soon to realign unemployment benefits with previous payments and with what people were being paid before they became unemployed,” he pointed out.

“Will there be a similar alignment of maternity benefit with average pay? People’s requirement to pay their mortgage goes on. Many families are now two-salary families to pay the mortgage. It will be a disincentive. Would the Tánaiste, at the very least, support this being addressed?”

Responding, Minister Varadkar said, “the short answer to the Deputy’s question is “Yes”.”

“Work currently being done by the Minister for Social Protection in moving towards pay-related benefits is not just about jobseekers; it could also apply to maternity benefit, paternity benefit, and illness benefit to better reflect the fact that if people are out of work for a temporary period, the money they get should better reflect what they earn and how much they are paying into the PRSI system,” the Tanáiste said. 

Minister Varadkar also noted that maternity benefit from the State is the minimum payment. “A lot of employers pay more, including in the public sector and the State, and sometimes those international comparisons do not take into account the fact that our system is different,” he said.

“Many employers top up maternity benefit and pay a lot more than that minimum amount.”

Deputy McNamara remarked, “Sometimes we forget about people not in the public service”.

Fiona McGarry
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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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