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Holly and Barry share good news

June 24th, 2024 7:45 AM

By Emma Connolly

Holly and Barry share good news Image
Holly and Barry announced their pregnancy on Instagram on Saturday.

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SKIBBEREEN-based Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns said the reaction to her announcing she’s expecting her first baby, a girl, has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’.

‘I am so thrilled to announce that my partner Barry and I are expecting our first child, and we couldn’t be more excited to raise our family in West Cork,’ Ms Cairns, whose partner is West Cork hotelier Barry Looney, told The Southern Star at the weekend.

She added: ‘Both of us were born and raised here.

We know just how incredible a place it is to grow up.’

Announcing the news on Instagram, the party leader posted:

‘Some personal news this Saturday, news that has been getting harder and harder to keep under wraps (quite literally) so here goes … I am overjoyed to let you know that my partner Barry and I are expecting a baby. We are so happy and feel so lucky because this is something we have wanted for a long time. While I’m delighted to share this news now, I was initially hesitant because like so many other couples hoping to start a family, ours has not been a straightforward journey. But all the signs look good for this pregnancy, so we are really hopeful.’

‘I’m definitely not the first woman to juggle work and a baby, but I also know I have a very unique job as leader of a political party,’ she added. ‘That’s why more than ever, I feel very grateful to belong to a party who are so supportive of parents and passionate about making sure we get #MoreMná into politics.

Speaking afterwards on RTÉ radio, she confirmed she was 17 weeks pregnant, and was doing her bit for #MoreMná as she’s having a baby girl.

She also disclosed she’s had two miscarriages over the past year.

‘It’s something we know happens to one in three women, and we just don’t hear a lot about it. Hearing other women speak about it, I found it comforting, you feel less alone, so it’s really important I think we talk more about it.’

One was an early miscarriage, she said, but the other was further along, and required a medical procedure while she was outside of Ireland.

On her return, she was straight into the party’s think-in, which was difficult: ‘But it would have been more difficult for me to miss it,’ she said.

‘Over the last year, I’ve spent seven months in the first trimester,’ she said, adding that now at 17 weeks pregnant she feels a new lease of life, and is glad to be out of the ‘danger zone.’

She said she was ‘so grateful’ for the positive responses she received this week from constituents and from people all across the country.

‘I’ve received so many messages from people who’ve been through the same experiences as I have,’ she said.

Barry and Holly have been an item for some time, although they have rarely been photographed together. Barry’s family own and run the West Cork Hotel on Ilen Street in Skibbereen.

Ms Cairns revealed in the radio interview that she ‘always had a thing’ for Barry, and that this was their third time together. She also described him as a ‘very private person.’

She confirmed that deputy leader Cian O’Callaghan will take over her role while she takes six months off on maternity leave. However, in the event of a general election, the plan would be to pause her leave.

‘Many people have highlighted their shock at the continued lack of maternity leave for TDs, despite promises from government to address the issue several years ago now,’ she told The Southern Star this week.

‘Politics can be an uphill battle for women at the best of times, and the absence of maternity leave is an example that epitomises how much needs to be done to address this. Shamefully only 22.5% of our TDs are women. I am the only female TD or senator in Cork city and county. It is clear that much more needs to be done.

‘For as long as maternity leave is unavailable, the State is actively preventing women who may wish to have children from entering politics as well as limiting the diversity of views and voices expressed in the Dáil.’

Meanwhile, she rejected out of hand any suggestion of a Social Democrats merger with Labour party.

We doubled our seats in the local elections, Labour went down. It’s not something we want or consider.’

She said she had heard the comment that her pregnancy was the ‘only Labour she should be going into’!

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