I welcome the announcement by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, and the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, that the Government is to provide fathers with two weeks of paid paternity leave.
“The Paternity Bill will be formally published tomorrow (Monday) and introduced to the Dáil this coming Friday.
“This will be very welcome news for fathers in Cork and will afford them the opportunity to be more involved at the earliest stages of a child’s development. In fact it will be beneficial for the whole family, as studies show that targeting investment in a child’s early years leads to better outcomes for both the child and wider society.
“When enacted, this legislation will allow new fathers in Cork to start the combined package of paternity leave and paternity benefit, at any time within the first six months following birth. It will also apply to the fathers of newly adopted children.
“The Department of Social Protection will provide fathers in Cork with paid paternity benefit of €230 per week for the two weeks of Paternity Leave. Employers in Cork will also have the option of providing a further top-up to the Dad’s regular salary if they so choose.
“This Bill meets the commitment made in Budget 2016 and in Fine Gael’s Programme for Government.
“Fine Gael is also committed to significantly increasing parental leave for parents in Cork over the next five years and cutting the cost of childcare. We want to give every child in Cork the best start in life and Fine Gael believes we should focus investment on early years and early intervention, in order to tackle the barriers that citizens face at the earliest possible opportunity and improve the lives of everyone in Cork.