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Not fair Taoiseach says barring partners of pregnant people from maternity services is 'unacceptable'

'Given the level of vaccination and given where we are, there shouldn't be those restrictions on partners of mothers'


Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Damien Eagers/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Damien Eagers/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Damien Eagers/PA)

Taoiseach Michael Martin has described ongoing restrictions barring the partners of pregnant people from attending maternity services as “unacceptable”. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told The Hard Shoulder on Newstalk more than a month ago that every hospital in Ireland would be following the same rules for partners.

In the same interview, he said new rules for emergency situations would be rolled out across the country in the coming weeks.

However, it has since emerged that hospitals are still telling partners they can’t enter until pregnant women are on the active labour ward – which only happens when they are 3cm dilated.

Meanwhile, partners of women attending hospitals in emergency situations are being told they can only come in after the miscarriage is confirmed by a scan.

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, the Taoiseach said: “At this stage, we have made it very clear to the HSE. The HSE, to be fair, at senior level, has made it clear to the hospitals (that) guidelines are issued.

“Given the level of vaccination and given where we are, there shouldn't be those restrictions on partners of mothers in maternity hospitals across the country or indeed for scans”

He added: “There are inconsistencies of terms of the individual local clinical autonomy being applied. The HSE has been endeavouring to cut through that and say ‘listen, there's a national set of guidelines here and we want to maternity hospitals to abide by them’.

“It's not fair to women concerned are indeed their partners.”

Line of Duty actor Amy De Bhrún said it was “barbaric” to block partners of pregnant people from attending maternity services while pubs and international travel are opening up.

De Bhrún told On The Hard Shoulder that the stories coming from couples all around the country were “heart-breaking and actually really hard to listen to.”

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“It’s barbaric,” she said. “Everyone can understand why the restrictions were there in the first place when Covid was in full flight and everything was shut down but now at this point, we have indoor pubs opening up, we have indoor dining – people are taking flights to Portugal and beyond.

“I can’t get my head around why the restrictions are still in place and I can’t get my head around why questions are not being answered.

“It is just sort of a passing of the buck and I just would love to know who the buck stops with and why are we still in this position all this time later.”

This morning, Ms De Bhrún posted a video to her Instagram account detailing her own experience having an emergency Caesarean section before COVID.

She said she posted the video in support of all the women in Ireland who had to go through similar experiences without the support of her partners.

“I was induced, I was labouring quite well and then, it was a complete and utter mystery – even the doctors couldn’t understand what was happening with me – my temperature skyrocketed, I was very sick, I was passing out and baby’s heartbeat was going mad so I was taken in for an emergency C-section,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get through. I just know how traumatic that would have been without my partner there. I knew he was my voice. I knew he was there to champion for me and get me what I needed.

“Particularly then, talking about it being a process, for him to have left and not be allowed back in when I am supposed to be feeding this a baby after I have been through quite a traumatic 36-hour period, I just can’t get my head around how that is even allowed or possible.”

She said the post has led to many women telling her their own stories of Covid childbirth.

“As soon as I posted the video, the amount of stories from people coming back to me - either people ready to give birth, people who had lost a child, people who have given birth to a Covid baby and are traumatised by the whole experience - and nobody is doing anything about it. It is infuriating.

“It is infuriating to watch places open and life go back to normal and yet you can’t have your partner - and I am not talking about visitors, people coming in with balloons - I am talking about the person who is the co-parent of this child and you are not allowed to have them with you.

“It is just barbaric and I know that my situation would have been a million times more traumatic had my husband not been there.”

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