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File image of Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns Alamy Stock Photo
Social Democrats

‘It’s important to talk’: Holly Cairns speaks about going through two miscarriages before pregnancy

Cairns yesterday said she was ‘overjoyed’ to share that she is expecting a baby girl.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS LEADER Holly Cairns has said “it’s important to talk” as she spoke about her experience of going through two miscarriages before becoming pregnant.

The Cork South-West TD yesterday announced her pregnancy on social media, joking that the happy news had been “quite literally” getting “harder to keep under wraps” over recent weeks.

“I am overjoyed to let you know that my partner Barry and I are expecting a baby,” Cairns said, adding that it’s a girl.

“We are so happy and feel so lucky because this is something we have wanted for a long time.”

In an interview today on Sunday with Miriam on RTÉ Radio 1, Cairns said the route to becoming pregnant wasn’t “easy” and that she went through two miscarriages.

“It’s something that we know happens to quite a lot of people,” said Cairns, “and we just don’t hear a lot about it.

“Hearing other women speak about it, I found it comforting, you feel like you’re less alone, that you’re not the only one going through it.

“I do think it’s really important that we talk a little bit more about that, it’s not easy.”

Cairns added that her miscarriages made her feel “vulnerable” about announcing her pregnancy.

“But everything’s looking good for this pregnancy,” said Cairns, who added that she is “past that danger period”.

Cairns added that in the past year, she’s spent around seven months in the first trimester.

The Social Democrats leader added that it was difficult to go through this period while being in the public eye.

“Being in the public eye, you don’t necessarily have time to recover if there’s certain things on, particularly in politics,” said Cairns.

Cairns also spoke about presiding over her party’s think-in following a miscarriage.

“That was my first think-in, so I wanted to do it, it would have been more difficult for me to miss that, but of course there is difficulty in doing it not having fully physically recovered.

“There has been challenging times and I’ve never felt more grateful for being in a party that is so supportive of parents.”

Meanwhile, Cairns said there has to be a “couple of variations” to her maternity leave depending on when the next general election is.

She will be the first party leader to have taken time off on maternity leave.

“The plan would be to take six months maternity leave, and deputy leader of the Social Democrats Cian O’Callaghan would be stepping into the leader role for those six months.

“But in the case of a general election – potentially Programme for Government talks – it is a mitigating circumstance, and the plan would be to potentially pause maternity leave during those times

“I recognise a lot of women will say to me, ‘you can plan all you want’, but that is the plan at the moment.”

She added that women should be able to both be in politics and start a family and remarked that it was important for her “to let people know this is happening”.

“I’m still completely committed and dedicated to Cork South-West and leading the Social Democrats into the election [and I wanted] to make sure that those kinds of questions are answered”.

Meanwhile, Cairns said she was happy with the results of the local elections.

“We’re a small and growing party, so to have nearly doubled our seats nationally is amazing and we couldn’t be more proud of our candidates and their teams.”

And while the party was unsuccessful in winning a seat in the European Parliament, she noted that this was the first time the Social Democrats stood in the three European constituencies.

“That in and of itself, the first time everybody in Ireland could vote Social Democrats, was a really big moment for the party.”

She added that being able to run incumbent TDs and “big name celebrities” was a “big advantage” for other parties.

She also shut down the possibility of a merger with the Labour party and said she is instead “focused on building our own party”.

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