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Labour vows new rights for parents


Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore (centre) canvasses on Grafton Street, Dublin

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore (centre) canvasses on Grafton Street, Dublin

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore (centre) canvasses on Grafton Street, Dublin

Labour has pledged to introduce paternity leave and a legal right to a career break for parents if handed power.

In its children's manifesto, the party said parents would be able to share paid time off after the birth of a child. It also promised not to cut child benefit, and to urgently hold the children's rights referendum.

Leader Eamon Gilmore said families wanted to know how they would make ends meet and provide for their children.

He said: "The things that really matter to families are, will the next government work for children and do the right thing for the next generation? And that's across a number of issues."

There is currently no legal entitlement to paternity leave in Ireland and it is granted at the employer's discretion.

Labour also promised a legal right to a career break, subject to reasonable conditions, which would allow parents to take time out from work without risking future benefits or job security.

Senator Alex White, the party's children's spokesman, said Labour would also not cut child benefit in power.

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"First and foremost, we believe that our children should not be made to pay for the current economic crisis, and for this reason Labour will not cut child benefit, particularly in the wake of recent budgets in which family incomes have already taken a substantial hit," said Senator White.

The party also promised to urgently hold the long-awaited children's rights referendum, claiming the delay was unacceptable. It has also vowed to introduce new laws to allow the exchange of "soft" information in suspected child abuse cases, and to make it tougher for a person who has sex with a minor to claim they did not know their victim's age.

Other proposals include speeding up the implementation of the actions and recommendations contained in the Ryan Report, ensuring a promised 270 new social workers are brought into the system, developing a national literacy strategy and introducing universal health insurance.

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