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And talking about the Dáil… July 17, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism, Irish Politics, Workers Rights.

Martha Kearns has a pretty good piece in the SBP on the dispiriting and dismal scenes involving Fine Gael TD Tom Barry last week. Until the point where it isn’t.

But let’s note the good stuff first.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that there was no malice intended. But what the actions – which quickly spread across the internet in the form of a 14-second-long video clip – showed were disrespect, misogyny, inappropriateness, childishness. – and, of course, a total lack of awareness of how to properly behave in a workplace, let alone in the country’s chamber of political power.

And she continues:

If any other woman was subjected to this level of mishandling while she was trying to carry out her work, sanctions would already have been taken against the man involved. And she would have a case filed with the Equality Tribunal before she left the office that day.

I’m a bit less sanguine than she that ‘any other woman’ would be able to get to the ET, perhaps most or many, but I would think, and this is drawn from my own experience, that some workplaces are deeply misogynistic and sexist to the point where people are too intimidated to complain. Still, not difficult to believe that she is correct in relation to the following, that because of the context it was smoothed over…

But this is politics. To be more specific, this is Irish politics. Sure, it’s all a bit of a laugh and why don’t ye wimmin just calm down and see the funny side of it.


Whatever the intentions behind Barry’s behaviour, it raises further questions about the establishment’s ongoing plan to attract women into the political arena. Out of the 166 Dáil seats, just 25 (or 15 per cent) are held by women. This is behind the world average of 19.5 per cent and the European Union average of 24 per cent. Ireland lies in 76th position in a world table of women’s political representation in parliament.
And also she continues that the structural aspects are such that they are deeply problematic for any woman with a young family lot thinking of having children. Of course this is true of a broader swathe of the working environment too, and it is indicative of just how working lives are, of necessity, fitted around commercial and work demands and to the detriment of personal and familial issues.

As it happens Gerry Adams was one of the few to bring that up in the actual debate, particularly when it came to the absurdity of the late night/early morning sitting. Because, of course, it wasn’t just the TDs but the workers in the Oireachtas, many of who found themselves forced to remain there because the representatives couldn’t organise their time more efficiently and more appropriately. Something to consider in light of all the rhetoric about that sitting.

Still, got to admit that for all that it is good to see the ‘m’ word in use, I found the following a bit irritating:

The latest antics in the Dáil are hardly going to have young, professional women banging down the doors at Leinster House.

Professional women? Surely any women?


1. steve white - July 17, 2013

isn’t this not about bad planning but purposeful planning to grind down and tire out opposition by having late night meetings its what they do for alot of negotiations, it seems. I don’t think closing the bar at 12 or whatever addreses that problem.


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