Organisers of this afternoon’s maternity care protest outside Leinster House say the Health Minister is, “letting the women of Ireland down.”
Hundreds of new parents, pregnant women, and children will be among those demonstrating against the ongoing COVID restrictions in Ireland’s maternity hospitals this lunchtime.
They are calling on the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to honour his commitment to end the exclusion of partners from labour and emergency appointments.
Minister Donnelly first called for restrictions to be lifted back in May – and has since made numerous commitments to bring uniformity to the rules at the 19 units across the country.
Better Maternity Care
On Breakfast Briefing this morning, Linda Kelly from Better Maternity Care Campaign said Minister Donnelly no ensure all COVID restrictions on partner visits are lifted.
“At lunchtime, hundreds of women, their partners, their bumps their babies and their families are going to gather outside Dáil Éireann and demand that the Minister for Health intervene in this issue,” she said.
Ms Kelly said the restrictions were understandable in the early days of the pandemic – but questioned how they can remain in place when we are weeks away from almost every other restriction in society being lifted.
'His silence is deafening'
She said she does not expect Minister Donnelly to come out and meet the protesters this afternoon.
“We wrote to him a number of weeks ago, asking him to intervene in this situation,” she said.
“We told him this was urgent, it needed to be addressed and we needed his support.
“We’re still waiting on a response. Perhaps he will come out today when he sees the crowd that is gathered there but to be honest at the moment, his silence is deafening and he is letting the women of this country down.”
I think I always knew it would come to this. That we would have to march on the streets for #BetterMaternityCare. That they wouldn't listen. That they would continue to subject us to these barbaric restrictions long past the point of emergency. Tomorrow we #MarchForMaternity pic.twitter.com/ezU6ZL3IKJ
— Linda Kelly (@lindabtweeting) October 5, 2021
She nobody involved in the campaign expected it to last this long.
“We started campaigning in September 2020,” she said. “I don’t think any of us expected that a year later we would still be fighting this hard to have our voices heard by those in decision making positions.
“We really have exhausted every avenue available to us, but we really have no choice but to actually put feet on the street.
“People are coming with their new-borns to this protest today. People are travelling from Galway and Limerick and Cork with small kids, you know, buggies in tow, because they have been so impacted by these restrictions.
“They should never have to do that. The minister promised in May that he would end all partner restrictions and we are still waiting now in October.”
Main image shows a man and a woman at a stop COVID sign outside the National Maternity hospital on Holles Street in Dublin, 16-08-2021. Image: Sasko Lazarov