Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Greens welcome increase in paid parental leave

Parents in Ireland can take up to seven weeks paid Parents Leave and Benefit, as part of new measures introduced by Green Party Minister Roderic O’Gorman. The measures will see the number of weeks that parents can take time off work, with financial support from the State, increase from five weeks to seven weeks.

Local Stillorgan Councillor and mum-of-two, Eva Elizabeth Dowling said:

“Since the formation of this Government, paid parental leave has increased from two weeks to seven weeks. This announcement also comes just a few days after Cabinet approved a scheme which will allow for the provision of maternity leave to Councillors across the country. This shows clearly the dedication of this government to supporting early years in Ireland.”

This financial support is available to anyone with a child under two years of age or who has adopted a child within the last two years. It has also been confirmed that the Government have committed to a further expansion of Parents Leave and Benefit to nine weeks in line with the Work Life Balance Directive.

Minister O’Gorman commented on the announcement today;

“Welcoming a child into the world is one of the most important moments in a parent’s life. We want to ensure that new parents are supported to spend quality time with their babies in those first weeks and months, and be there to share special bonding moments.

“I am delighted that we have been able to support these parents to spend more time with their families, and I hope the increase we have announced today encourages even more parents to take up the offer of paid parent’s leave.”

Greens welcome maternity leave for Councillors

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Greens today welcome Cabinet approval to draft a general scheme which will allow for the provision of maternity leave to Councillors across the country.

The scheme offers the choice to appoint an individual as a temporary substitute in the place a Councillor who takes a period of maternity-related absence or is absent due to illness. The substitute would have the ability to vote on behalf of the councillor, represent them at all meetings, in all aspects of the role for the 26-week maternity leave period.

Welcoming the scheme, Cllr Eva Elizabeth Dowling, Green Party Representative for Stillorgan and mum-of-two said:

“In my own personal experience, I’ve brought two newborn babies with me to work on Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as I was elected 8 weeks postpartum in 2019 and had another baby last year. I greatly welcome this scheme and I am hopeful it will encourage more women and new parents to participate in local politics.

“In the Green Party, half of our elected representatives are women, but there is so much more work that we can do for women in general in politics. This scheme will allow for the increased participation of women in local government, which will have a positive knock-on effect for politics at large. An equal Ireland for every woman can only be achieved when we have women’s voices at the highest offices in local government and beyond.”

There is alternative administrative support option if a councillor does not wish to elect a substitute in their place. In this case, councillors will be given funding for additional administrative assistance for the entirety of their maternity leave.

Following the approval at Cabinet today, the draft legislation will be prepared and will pass through the Oireachtas in the near future.

Mount Anville Site

I am delighted that today the Council approved the sale of the Mount Anville site in Mount Merrion to allow for a permanent home for Gaelscoil Laighean and the development of social and affordable housing.

The parents and teachers of Gaelscoil Laighean have long campaigned for a permanent site for the school. The finalising of the sale is welcome progress from the Department of Education.

The development of social and affordable housing in the Stillorgan Ward is very welcome news. The impact of the housing crisis mean many in our community are struggling to find a home or remain near family and friends. I will work with the Council to ensure that the development is prioritised.

Best of luck to all the pupils, parents and teachers excited to move to their new school.

Apply now for school bike parking

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has opened applications for cycle and scooter parking facilities in schools across the County. 

All schools in the have been contacted and requested to apply for funding. If you feel that your school would benefit from cycle and/or scooter parking facilities, then please contact your school and ask them to apply. The deadline for applications is the 16th March 2022.  

This funding will build on 2021, when 23 toasters cycle stands (parking for 10 bikes each) and 31 scooter stands (parking for 10 scooters each) were supplied to 23 schools around the County.  

This funding will help to encourage active transport for younger people and encourage them to travel to school in a safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly way.  

Season’s Greetings

With the end of the year fast approaching, I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year – and to thank you for your support over the past year and for your continued support going forward.

Some important information regarding the upcoming Christmas period:

I can be contacted during the break by emailing edowling@cllr.dlrcoco.ie or contacting 087-1415641.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown offices will close from 4:30pm on Thursday, 23rd December and will re-open on Tuesday 4th January 2022. In case of an emergency relating to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown services, please contact 01 677 88 44.

In case of an emergency please ring 112/999 as required.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

Cllr. Eva Elizabeth Dowling

Breastfeeding in County Development Plan

Today my motion to include references to safe, public breastfeeding spaces in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan passed unanimously.

The pandemic has highlighted how challenging it is to breastfeed in our public spaces.Many parents found it hard to feed their babies while out and about during lockdown, with all amenities and public places closed.

By referencing supporting breastfeeding in public spaces, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown can begin to combat breastfeeding stigma and be a more family friendly community. Read my motion here:

The County Development Plan will guide growth and development in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown from 2022 to 2028. Fighting for change at the local level is a step towards a policy and mindset shift on the national level.

Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. There are a multitude of reasons why a parent may or may not choose to breastfeed, including health reasons, access to support and resources, and personal preferences. An increase in breastfeeding requires a shift in policy, particularly health policy, to support parents in making the choice that works for them. However, at the local level we can fight by making our public spaces more accessible for people who are breastfeeding.

No one in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown should be prevented from breastfeeding because of stigma or lack of safe spaces. Here’s to more progressive planning of our public spaces, going forward.

Roebuck Road Cycle Lane

It is great news that Roebuck Road is to get bollards to protect the cycle lane. It will finally be safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

I have worked with the Council and locals to fight for this change. Residents have been frustrated with illegally parked cars and unsafe cycle lanes for far too long.

This development will see Roebuck Road be a safer place for all our community.

Read more here: https://irishcycle.com/2021/07/12/roebuck-road-to-get-bollards-protecting-cycle-lanes-and-safety-focused-side-street-redesign/

Childcare facilities in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown

Today, my motion ensuring childcare facilities must be completed in a development, prior to residents moving in, has passed in the Council.

I submitted this motion in response to the childcare crisis being felt by families across Dún Laoghaire Rathdown. I, like many parents, have struggled in securing childcare. This shortage in childcare spaces is a considerable source of stress and uncertainty for working families.

My motion inserted the following words into the DRAFT County Development Plan for 2022-2028:

“To combat the ongoing childcare crisis and make childcare more accessible to everybody in the County, childcare facilities in a new development must be completed prior to residents moving in.”

The County Development Plan will guide growth and development in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown from 2022 to 2028. By including this motion on childcare facilities, we can tackle the housing and childcare crisis in tandem.

Access to childcare is essential in promoting gender equality. Women are still more likely than men, to be expected to fulfil the caring role if childcare options are not available. This has become increasingly evident throughout Covid, as many parents are working from home.

Ireland’s first “science candidate” launches bid for Seanad seat

The Green Party’s Eva Dowling has officially launched her bid for a Seanad seat today (26.02.20), running as Ireland’s first ever “science candidate”.

Cllr. Dowling MSc– who was elected to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on her first attempt last year – is running on the NUI panel for the Seanad election.

A Green Party activist for eight years, Cllr. Dowling says she wants to place science firmly at the heart of policymaking.

Her Seanad bid has been endorsed by leading figures in Ireland’s science community, including Ann O’Dea, founder of Silicon Republic and Future Human; Bill Liao, angel investor, entrepreneur, co-founder of Coder Dojo and founder of WeForest.org; and Professor Patrick Cunningham, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Irish Government.

Commenting today, Cllr. Dowling said: “I am delighted to formally announce my bid for a Seanad seat, and to highlight that I’m standing on a science platform.  I believe science has a crucial role to play in policymaking.

“If we are to tackle the major challenges currently facing our country and the wider world – such as the climate and biodiversity crises – we as politicians need to listen to scientists and place science firmly at the heart of our work.

“As we continue to work in the era of ‘fake news’, it is vital that our laws are evidence-based, as opposed to interest-based and that a scientific approach is taken to drafting and scrutinising legislation.”

Cllr. Dowling outlined five key issues she will prioritise, if elected to the Seanad:

  1. Making science central to resolving the climate and biodiversity crises;
  2. Advocating for a fully independent Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government;
  3. Securing increased funding for discovery research;
  4. Working with higher education institutions to improve Ireland’s university rankings; and
  5. Working to establish a science museum for Ireland, recognising the country’s contribution to science and research over many centuries.

Commenting on Cllr. Dowling’s campaign, Professor Patrick Cunningham, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government, said: “As far as I am aware, Ireland has never before had a science candidate seeking election at any level of government. The growing place of science in our lives and economy is the mark of a modern, competent and competitive society. With her strong background and commitment, Eva Dowling will bring a new level of vision and effectiveness to this area in the work of the Seanad.”

Scientific Background

Cllr. Dowling has been heavily involved in Ireland’s science community for over a decade. As a science communicator, she works with some of Ireland’s leading minds in science and technology, across the private and public sectors.

In the leadup to the 2018 referendum, Eva founded and convened the ‘Scientists for Yes’ platform. The campaign brought together over 2,000 signatories from Ireland’s science community, including Ireland’s only living Nobel Laureate for the sciences, William C. Campbell.

She holds an MSc from the University of Edinburgh.

Other well-known supporters of her campaign include:

  • Dervilla M. X. Donnelly, Emerita professor of organic chemistry, University College Dublin
  • Luke Drury, Emeritus Professor, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
  • Pat Guiry, Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, University College Dublin
  • Dr Tomás Ryan, Assistant Professor, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institutes
  • Dr Francis T. Smyth, Organic Chemist and Fulbright Scholar
  • Dr Simon Kelly, Associate Professor, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University College Dublin
  • Dr Elizabeth A. Moore, BA, BDS, Dentist
  • Dr Sarah McLoughlin, research scientist and patient advocate
  • Dr Claire Gillan, Assistant Professor, Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin
  • Paula Moore, BE MIEI AIMechE, Mechanical Engineer
  • Seamus Sheridan, Co-founder of Sheridans Cheesemongers
  • Catherine McGuinness, Zoologist and science communicator
  • Vicky Twomey-Lee, Diversity in Tech and Maker Advocate