The Government was tonight forced to issue an embarrassing public apology to a woman asked to stop breastfeeding in a social welfare office.
The Department of Social and Family Affairs said it has also expressed regret to the new mother and fully accepted an individual’s right to feed a baby in a public place.
A complaint was lodged with the Equality Tribunal in June 2007 after the incident in a north Dublin branch office.
It was investigated under the Equal Status Act and mediation was held between the parties.
A department spokeswoman said although details of the case and the outcome of the mediation are confidential, the complainant had requested the department issue a statement.
“The department has apologised to the woman concerned, as it fully accepts the individual's rights in this regard,” she said.
“Each year over 500,000 customers visit and conduct business in each of the 128 social welfare local and branch offices and staff seek at all times to treat all customers with efficiency and courtesy in their day to day dealings.
“This isolated and regrettable incident highlights the need for particular customer-focussed awareness campaigns for all staff dealing with members of the public on a day-to-day basis and the department is committed to implementing such an awareness programme for staff.”