A bill to extend unpaid parental leave for parents to six months has passed all stages in the Dáil.

The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 - which was proposed by the Social Democrats - increases unpaid leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks to be taken over the lifetime of children up to the age of 12.

Currently parental leave ends when a child reaches eight.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall welcomed the cross-party support for the bill.

"We are very pleased at the backing we received from fellow lawmakers tonight for this very practical Bill. I'd like to thank Minister David Stanton and all political parties for their support.

"Our aim is to help working families to enjoy better work-life balance by giving parents the chance to spend more time caring for their children, if that makes economic sense for them," she said.

"The passage of this Bill through the Dáil tonight means it is one step closer to become law - and we hope that it will pass through the Seanad swiftly and come into force in the coming months."

The Bill will now go to the Seanad to complete its passage.