A TD, who has just returned to Leinster House from maternity leave, said she had no choice but to take her baby to the Dáil chamber to take an important vote.
Independent TD Violet-Anne Wynne said the logistics of voting at the Dáil with a young 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 Chamber. Ms Wynne, who returned to Leinster House last week, said she thought it was important to get back to work ahead of next week’s budget.
“Because of the importance of the role and the responsibility to the people of Clare, if you’re not there it just matters a lot,” she said. “I knew I wanted to return as soon as possible.”
First elected in 2020, the TD is still breastfeeding and has struggled to leave her daughter with her partner at home in Clare. “She was too upset and couldn’t settle for the night,” she said.
Last week Ms Wynne arranged for Collins to be taken to the Leinster House crèche on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays – on the days when the Dáil is sitting and Ms Wynne has to be in Dublin.
But seeing the Dáil timetable on Wednesday, the mother-of-six realized she would have no choice but to bring her baby when she could vote on a range of motions relating to energy bills and household bills.
The weekly voting block – when TDs cast their ballots on various motions and bills – was scheduled for Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m. But the crèche at Leinster House closes at 6.15pm every day.
“I was nervous about how Collins would be with all the noise and bustle of the Chamber and how she would feel. But voting is so important and anyway it’s a big responsibility to be a TD and represent people. It was something I felt I had to do, so I really just hoped for the best,” Ms Wynne said Irish Independent.
The TD walked around the polling block with Collins in her stroller, hoping she would sleep through and let her mother vote. “I definitely had no choice,” she said. “It was a complete learning curve.”
As soon as Collins dozed, Mrs Wynne made her way to the Chamber – sometimes struggling to push the buggy across the thick carpet of Leinster House. The chamber is not fully accessible so Ms Wynne took a lift to the first floor where she was met by an usher who helped her carry the dozing Collins down a small number of steps in her buggy.
In the chamber, Mrs Wynne parked the buggy behind her seat. Another usher offered to watch Collins while Mrs Wynne conducted the first vote.
“That [voting] The bell is quite loud once you’re in the chamber,” said Mrs. Wynne.
“She actually woke up after the first vote. But she was in good spirits. Many of the ushers smiled and talked to her, and she smiled back. The ushers were amazing and made the whole experience so much easier for me. I was so thankful.”
There is a baby changing room near the chamber that Mrs. Wynne was previously unaware of. Once awake, Collins was personally greeted by Ceann Comhairle, who said “history was being made,” followed by a round of applause and congratulations from cross-party politicians.
Ms Wynne said she hopes her young daughter has helped raise awareness of the need for more family-friendly working hours and facilities at the Leinster home.
“I think we should keep in mind that at Leinster House there are parents who have to do their duty but also have to be home at night when their children need it,” she said.
Over the past week, Collins has been at budget briefings and policy launches. Ms Wynne said her experience so far has been “overwhelmingly positive”.
“I think the human side of people really came out and they showed great compassion,” she said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/i-had-no-other-option-breastfeeding-td-violet-anne-wynne-calls-for-more-family-friendly-working-hours-has-shes-forced-to-bring-baby-to-dail-vote-42011148.html ‘I had no choice’ – Lactation consultant Violet-Anne Wynne calls for ‘more family-friendly’ working hours despite being forced to take the baby to the Dáil vote