I thank the Minister of State for his role in respect of local government over the past two and a half years. He has probably been the most effective Minister for local government and councillors in a very long time, particularly regarding how he has respected the role of local government in our democracy. The pay rise was very much welcomed by councillors around the country along with the supports the Minister of State put in place for them to do their work.
This Bill is yet another support mechanism that is particularly geared towards women. There are challenges facing women when it comes to getting into politics but they can be overcome. This legislation deals with the issue of pregnancy but there are many women in business who find that when they do go into local government, getting time off for meetings and trying to fit local government tasks in with running a business are pretty difficult. Let us not make any bones about it. This is a difficult job and it is more difficult for women.
There are some concerns regarding co-option and the person who may take over the position. Some people say it is eroding the democratic will of the people. I can tell them it is not. I have first-hand experience of co-option. If co-option is put in place for the people who are going to do the work on the ground for the people, they will respect that decision made by the councillor who needs the co-option. I welcome the legislation. It is another Bill that breaks down the barriers for women and I thank the Minister of State for it.