Monday 29 May 2017

Frances Fitzgerald giving 'serious consideration' to running for FG leadership

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Sean Duffy

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has revealed she is giving "serious consideration" to running for the Fine Gael leadership when Taoiseach Enda Kenny eventually steps down.

Ms Fitzgerald told the Planet Woman conference at the RDS that the leadership is "something I am considering" when asked by a member of the audience.

Ms Fitzgerald said that she felt gender diversity in leadership roles was important.

She stated that she was giving the leadership question "serious consideration", adding that she would "wait and see" how things unfold over the next number of weeks.

Ms Fitzgerald would be considered an outside candidate to become the first female Taoiseach should she decide to run.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney and Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar are the front-runners to replace Mr Kenny who has so far refused to provide a timeline on when he will step down from his post.

The Tanaiste also spoke of her joy at getting legislation through the Dáil that criminalised paying for sex.

The minister said that there was now more money in the people trafficking industry worldwide than there are in the drugs trade.

She said she was compelled to take section to try and protect vulnerable women.

"I felt very strongly that we needed to do something. So we followed the Swedish model and made it an offence to pay for sexual services."

She also emphasised the important of gender diversity in politics.

"It isn't good enough for our society that you only have male voices," Ms Fitzgerald added.

She also expressed her regret about the amount of cynicism that surrounds politics.

Ms Fitzgerald was joined by some of Ireland's most innovative and powerful women at the RDS conference.

Pay Pal's vice president of Europe the Middle East and Africa, Louise Phelan, told of the mammoth journey which led up to her joining the company.

"I did 16 interviews to get the job at Pay Pal. So I changed that process as one of the first things I did when I got in there."

"I had been in an amazing company in GE. But I did need a change. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Ten percent of what happens to me is what I learn. The rest is what I do about it,"Ms Phelan said.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm a bit of an imposter and that I'm going to get found out. But what you really learn from is failure and what you do about it is really what counts" Ms Phelan said.

She urged the audience to be real in the way they pursue their goals.

"Always remember where you came from," Ms Phelan added.

Communicorp chairperson Lucy Gaffney began by offering a prize of €10,000 worth of advertising on any of the company's radio stations.

Ms Gaffney said she had to drop out of college to be with her husband. She said she didn't want to go home having lost her first job at the age of 19.

"I didn't want to go home having failed. So that spurred me on," she said.

She said she left radio station 98fm having been passed over for promotion by owner Denis O' Brien. She noted that Mr O'Brien was the first client at her new firm.

However, she said she was relieved to return to work for the media tycoon.

"I have great respect for people who run their own business, but I found it too stressful," she said.

She said there had been no pivotal moment over the course of her career:

"Failure is not a bad thing. Success is not final and failure is not fatal. I have absolutely had people that have championed me. Denis O' Brien asked me to run a division of Digifone and I sat in front of him crying thinking I can't do it. So it helps when you have people around you that support you and believe in you."

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