More family-friendly policies needed to encourage women into politics, says Violet Anne Wynne
CLARE’S Sinn Féin TD has revealed that she is expecting her sixth child and is due to give birth in February.
Deputy Violet Anne Wynne said the news came as a pleasant surprise to herself and her family, and underlined the need for more family-friendly policies to encourage other women to enter politics.
In February 2020, the Psychology graduate was elected after securing just over 15% of first preference votes.
The first SF TD elected in Clare since 1922, Deputy Wynne is the third female deputy to represent the constituency since the foundation of the State.
The Offaly native will make electoral history again next spring and is determined to prove that motherhood and a busy public role are compatible.
“We saw Minister Helen McEntee this year, the first Cabinet member to take maternity leave while in office,” Deputy Wynne noted.
“Oireachtas members, in general, are excluded from the legislation which allows for maternity leave, however. We have to be present for votes.
“In some cases, female members have had to get a two-week sick cert so that they can give birth and return to the Oireachtas. That does need to change. The rules were drawn up, in the main, by men and don’t take account of female members.”
While recognising that change is needed, Deputy Wynne is very positive about the support she has received.
“Mary Lou McDonald was fantastic, the party has been so positive and supportive,” she said. “The management team at Leinster House have been brilliant. I’m really grateful for that.”
Maternity hospital restrictions are also something Deputy Wynne feels strongly about.
“For reasons of childcare, I have had, in the past, to go to appointments alone and I know what it’s like,” she said.
“We need to see far more support for mothers because, in some cases, isolation can be devastating.”
Meanwhile, the news of a new brother or sister has been greeted with great excitement by Deputy Wynne’s children.
“The eldest two (Ethan, 11 and Gracie, 10) are arguing about whether the new baby will even up the number of boys or girls,” she smiled.
With Travis (8), Nicholas (6) and Carly (3-and-a-half), family life is hectic, but since her election, Deputy Wynne has seen the children learn to help each other.
“Because they’re quite close in age, they help each other and it’s lovely to see the older kids helping the others with their reading and other things,” she said.
“They’re all still in national school in Kilmurry McMahon and it’s lovely, a really great school.”
Deputy Wynne has also moved to reassure her constituents that she remains dedicated to representing them at the highest level.
“We’ve had a conversation at home about the practicalities and my partner is well capable and able,” she said.
“I’ll be stepping right back into my elected role, so I won’t get to take much time out. Representing the people of Clare is such an important role because there are so many voices not being heard, so I’ll be straight back to work.”
Deputy Wynne also believes she can inspire other women to get involved in politics. “Women often feel like their lives have to stop when they have a family,” she said.
“I would like to see that view change. Seeing is believing and I hope I will show people that you can balance career and family.
“We do need to see maternity, paternity and parental leave for politicians as well as flexibility around meeting times and remote voting.
“We need to move in that direction and to make the whole of society more family friendly,” she added.