Breastfeeding legislation must be introduced urgently - McCallister

SOUTH Down UUP MLA John McCallister said he believes legislation must be introduced over breastfeeding as a matter of urgency.

The local MLA was speaking after being made aware of an incident at a local cinema where a mother was asked to leave the premises.

He said, “This is very concerning and a difficult issue which I think can only properly be addressed by the introduction of legislation. This is a very grey area and has caused untold embarrassment, anger and frustration for both mothers and businesses.”

“In this particular case, I have been informed that the film was a “15” age group and staff at the venue asked the mother to leave. I feel very strongly that any breast feeding mother has the right to have her child with her at any stage when feeding. It is only natural that the baby has to follow the milk supply which in this instance is the mother.”

Mr McCallister said he believes that new laws would also protect business owners such as restaurants and coffee shops.

“Because of the fact there is no law, it leaves many business people in a very difficult situation. If for instance a mother is breast feeding her baby and another customer complains, does the manager ask the mother to leave, ask her to move or ask the complaining customer to leave?

“I had considered a Private Members Bill on this issue last year, and I feel the time is right to pursue this and see what can be done. It opens up a very interesting debate and I’m keen for people to get in touch with me and let me know their views.”

“I am a great advocate of breastfeeding and I think we should be doing everything in our power to promote the health benefits, but we must also protect our local businesses who are trying their best in tough financial times.”