The first priority recommendation of the report from the Forum on a Family Friendly and Inclusive Parliament for a proxy parliamentary voting system can be achieved through the enactment of Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill’s Private Member’s Bill (PMB).
The Fine Gael TD introduced a Bill last December to allow for remote voting in the Houses of the Oireachtas in specified and limited circumstances in which members not physically present may vote.
Deputy Carroll MacNeill said, “The report published this week from the Forum on a Family Friendly and Inclusive Parliament includes a range of aspects which I believe will make the Houses of the Oireachtas a more family friendly and gender sensitive workplace, in particular the need for childcare and the reduction of unfriendly hours. The Report included 51 general recommendations, as well as five priority recommendations.
“The first of the priority recommendations advocates for the introduction of a formal provision for various types of leave, including maternity, parental and adoptive leave, which would be facilitated by a proxy parliamentary voting system.
“This priority recommendation is exactly what my Private Member’s Bill sets out to do. Last year, I introduced the Thirty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Remote Parliamentary Voting) Bill 2020 which enables each House of the Oireachtas to make provisions for remote or proxy voting in its rules for specific circumstances in which members not physically present in the House may vote.
“Since the introduction of my Bill in December 2020, we have seen the first Cabinet Minister in the history of this State, Minister Helen McEntee, take maternity leave. Whilst this was facilitated, the arrangement was by no means a permanent solution.
“The implementation of this recommendation will have positive impacts on the second and fourth priority recommendations in particular; to increase the representation of women on Oireachtas Committees and to increase diversity in our Parliament, respectively.
“I have written today to the Ceann Comhairle and Taoiseach again to highlight my Bill and I hope that it may be included in any discussions about upcoming referendums,” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.