Maternity Benefit is a payment made to women on who are maternity leave from work and covered by social insurance (PRSI). You should apply for the payment 6 weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave (12 weeks if you are self-employed). The amount of money paid to you each week depends on your earnings in the relevant tax year (two years before your Maternity Benefit claim). If you are already on certain social welfare payments then you may get half-rate Maternity Benefit.
Maternity Benefit is paid weekly directly into your bank or building society account. Some employers will continue to pay an employee, in full, while she is on maternity leave and require her to have any Maternity Benefit paid to them. You should check your contract of employment to see what applies to you. Maternity Benefit is not taxable.