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‘I had no choice’ – Breastfeeding TD Violet-Anne Wynne calls for more ‘family friendly’ working hours, forced to bring baby to Dáil voteOUS News

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

Independent TD Violet-Anne Wynne said the logistics of voting with a small baby in the Dáil was 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. Returning to Leinster House last week, Ms Wynne said she thought it was important to get back to work before next week’s budget.

“Because of the importance of the role and responsibility you play to the people of Clare, if you’re not there, it takes a huge toll on your mind,” he said. “I knew I’d want to come back soon.”

First selected in 2020, TD is still breastfeeding and has had a hard time leaving her daughter at home with her husband in Clare. “He was very upset and couldn’t settle for the night,” she said.

Last week, Miss Wynne arranged to let Collins into Leinster House nursery on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, where Dáil resides and Miss Wynne is supposed to be in Dublin.

But when she saw Wednesday’s Dáil programme, she realized that the mother of six would have no choice but to bring her baby with her if she could vote on a series of motions related to energy costs and household bills.

The weekly voting block – where TDs vote on different motions and bills – was scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night. But the Leinster House kindergarten closes at 6:15 PM every day.

I was nervous about how Collins would be and feel in all the noise and bustle of the room. But the vote is very important and already being a TD and representing the people is a big responsibility. It was something I felt I had to do, so I really hoped for the best,” said Miss Wynne. Irish Independent.

TD wandered in front of the voting block with Collins in the stroller, hoping she would sleep and let her mother vote. “I had absolutely no choice,” he said. “It was a complete learning curve.”

As Collins began to nap, Mrs Wynne went into the room—sometimes she struggled to push the car over the thick Leinster House carpet. The room is not fully accessible, so Miss Wynne took the elevator to the first floor, where she was met by a contractor who helped her carry Collins, who was dozing off in her car, down the stairs.

After Miss Wynne entered the room, she parked the car behind her seat. Another officer offered to watch Collins as Miss Wynne won the first ballot.

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

“Actually, he woke up after the first vote. But he was in good spirits. Many contractors were smiling at him and talking to him and he was smiling too. The starters were amazing and made the whole experience so much easier for me. I was very grateful.”

Near the room is a baby changing facility, which Miss Wynne did not know about before. When Collins awoke, he received a personal welcome from Ceann Comhairle, who said “history was being made,” followed by applause and congratulations from cross-party politicians.

Ms Wynne said she hopes her baby daughter will help raise awareness of the need for more family-friendly opening hours and facilities at her Leinster home.

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