News & Media

Barbaric maternity restrictions need to end

29 July 2021

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Northern Ireland

Labour leader and health spokesperson Alan Kelly TD has urged the Government to end the current maternity restrictions and ensure that there is a consistent application of a minimum standard of care across the country. Highlighting the numerous stories of women, partners and families throughout the country, Deputy Kelly said antigen testing and Covid passports should be used to allow partners and families of women to attend scans and support women in labour. 

Deputy Kelly said:

“It’s crazy to think that people are enjoying indoor dining throughout the country when some women are still forced to experience moments during pregnancy and labour alone. This has been a constant issue throughout the pandemic, but with more and more people vaccinated, it is clear we need a consistent approach on maternity restrictions. Antigen testing of partners, if implemented, would provide an immediate extra layer of protection as healthcare staff, and pregnant women have been, or will soon be vaccinated.

“We can’t have a postcode lottery of inconsistent application of restrictions, and frankly it’s been barbaric what some women have had to go through, and it’s unfair when we now have ways to resolve it. Pregnant women, new mothers and their partners should not have to take to Twitter and the media to try to bring forward change.

“There is also a need to look at how women’s families and other children are being treated. I received a harrowing email from a woman who has been admitted to the maternity hospital in advance of having twins. As she is only allowed one visitor a day, she is forced to see her son in the car park for a very short time. When her twins arrive, he will not be able to meet his new siblings which will be very hard for him to take in.

“Why can’t the Government take a common sense approach to this issue? I cannot get my head around the fact that siblings cannot meet their new family members in a controlled manner like other visitors.

“When the dust settles on the pandemic, I want to see a full and comprehensive examination of how we treat women’s health in this country. I need not list the many failings from the CervicalCheck programme to women’s lack of freedom in terms of their reproductive health. Labour has done its bit to try and redress the situation but the change must go beyond the legislative process. It’s clear that there’s a healthcare gender bias in this country.”