Breastfeeding TD Violet-Anne Wynne calls for more ‘family-friendly’ working hours as she’s forced to take baby to Dáil mood – ‘I had no other option’

A TD who has just returned from maternity leave to Leinster House said she had no choice but to take her baby to the Dáil room to cast an important vote.

Independent TD Violet-Anne Wynne said the logistics of voting in the Dáil with a small baby had been a “learning curve” but an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Seven-month-old baby Collins Mountaine made history Wednesday night when her mother became the first TD to bring a baby into the room. Mrs Wynne, who returned to Leinster House last week, said she thought it was important to get to work ahead of next week’s budget.

“Because of the importance of the role and the responsibility for the Clare people, that plays a huge role in your mind when you’re not there,” she said. “I knew I would want to go back as soon as possible.”

First elected in 2020, the TD is still breastfeeding and has struggled to leave her daughter at her partner’s home in Clare. “She got too upset and couldn’t settle for the night,” she said.

Last week Ms Wynne arranged for Collins to come to Leinster House creche on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – the days when the Dáil sits and Mrs Wynne has to be in Dublin.

But when she saw the Dáil schedule on Wednesday, the mother of six realized she had no choice but to bring her baby with her if she could vote on some motions related to energy costs and household bills.

The weekly voting bloc — when the WL cast their votes on various motions and bills — was scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. But the Leinster House creche closes at 6:15pm every day.

“I was nervous about how Collins would be with all the noise and bustle of the room and how she would feel. But the vote is so important and it’s a huge responsibility to be a TD and represent people anyway. It was something I felt I had to do, so I just hoped for the best,” Ms Wynne told the Irish independent.

The TD walked around with Collins in her stroller in front of the voting pad, hoping she would sleep through and let her mother vote. “I had absolutely no other option,” she said. “It was a complete learning curve.”

While Collins was napping, Mrs. Wynne made her way into the room—sometimes struggling to push the buggy across the thick carpet of Leinster House. The room isn’t fully accessible, so Mrs. Wynne took a lift to the first floor, where she was met by an usher who helped her carry the napping Collins down a few steps in her buggy.

Once in the room, Mrs. Wynne parked the buggy behind her seat. Another messenger offered to watch Collins while Mrs. Wynne passed the first ballot.

“The [voting] the bell is pretty loud once you’re in the room,’ said Mrs. Wynne.

“She did wake up then, after the first vote. But she was in a good mood. Many of the ushers smiled at her and talked to her, and she smiled back. The ushers were incredible and made the whole experience so much easier for me. I was so grateful.”

There is a baby changing area near the room which Mrs Wynne was not aware of before. Once awake, Collins was personally welcomed by the Ceann Comhairle, who said “history was being made”, followed by applause and congratulations from politicians of all parties.

Ms Wynne said she hoped her daughter had helped raise awareness of the need for more family-friendly working hours and facilities at Leinster’s home.

“I think we need to be aware of the fact that there are parents in Leinster House who have to do their duty, but also be home at night if their children need them,” she said.

Over the course of the past week, Collins attended budget briefings and policy launches. Ms Wynne said her experience so far has been “overwhelmingly positive”.

“I think the human side of people has really come out and they’ve shown a lot of compassion,” she said.


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