Dáil history in the making with Holly Cairns-Helen McEntee paired voting pact

Holly Cairns will abstain from tonight's votes as Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will not be able to attend due to maternity leave
Dáil history in the making with Holly Cairns-Helen McEntee paired voting pact

Ms Cairns rang the Ceann Comhairle and asked for a special provision to be made and to ensure that the abstentions wouldn't appear on her voting record without the acknowledgment of extraordinary circumstances. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Two TDs will be paired for voting for maternity leave in the Oireachtas for the first time in history tonight.

Social Democrat Holly Cairns will abstain from tonight's votes on climate and rental provisions as Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will not be able to attend due to maternity leave.

Ms Cairns offered to pair with Ms McEntee last year when the Minister initially announced she was expecting her first child.

In parliamentary practice, pairing is an informal arrangement between the government and opposition parties where a member agrees to abstain from voting when a member of the other party needs to be absent from the chamber due to other commitments.

When Ms Cairns became aware that tonight would be the first votes held in Ms McEntee's absence, the women agreed that the arrangement should be implemented.

Ms Cairns rang the Ceann Comhairle and asked for a special provision to be made and to ensure that the abstentions wouldn't appear on her voting record without the acknowledgment of extraordinary circumstances.

"This is not a partisan issue," Ms Cairns told the Examiner.

"We're not going to have a referendum to vote remotely any time soon and Helen shouldn't be asked to vote remotely anyway as she is on maternity leave.

"It won't show on my voting record and the Ceann Comhairle absolutely agrees that this should be implemented easily and standard practice going forward, so he is going to work out an arrangement that would address any concerns in full.

"Hopefully, this becomes standard and no one thinks about the consequences of missing votes because they're on maternity leave."

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