Thursday 8 December 2016

Kenny comes under pressure to appoint more women ministers

Taoiseach failed to fulfil promise of 50:50 Cabinet gender split

Published 09/05/2016 | 02:30

Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Minister of State for Health Promotion: Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Photo: Tom Burke
Minister of State for Communities and National Drug Strategy: Catherine Byrne Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is coming under increasing pressure to appoint more women to ministerial roles after his failure to reach a 50-50 gender divide in Cabinet.

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Two Fine Gael TDs whose names have been linked with junior minister positions have said that they would like to see more women appointed.

Their call comes after the Women for Election organisation criticised Mr Kenny for not living up to previous remarks indicating he would try to offer half of the Cabinet roles to female TDs.

There are now six women in Cabinet - Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Children's Minister Katherine Zappone among them.

Fine Gael's Helen McEntee and Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy have both said they would like to see more women TDs in the ranks of junior ministers.

Meath East deputy Ms McEntee said: "Of course I would like to see a high proportion of women at junior ministerial level." She said the number appointed to Cabinet was "moving in the right direction", but that she'd like to see a "high percentage" of junior minister jobs going to women.

Of her own chances of getting one of the jobs, she said she wasn't expecting it, but would be "pleasantly surprised" and is interested in the area of education or mental health.

Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy said she would welcome a move by Mr Kenny to appoint more women, but added: "The Taoiseach is his own man and he makes his own decisions."

"I'd love to see more women in positions politically and across the board," she said.

The Offaly TD said that if she was offered one of the jobs, she would do it "with a heart and a half".

Ms Corcoran-Kennedy said that the committees she had participated in, including Environment, Justice and Jobs, would give an indication of the areas she's interested in.

Other female names that have been linked to potential junior minister jobs include Dublin TDs Josepha Madigan and Catherine Byrne. After the Cabinet was announced, Women for Election director Suzanne Collins said the failure to implement a 50-50 split "only increases the urgency of promoting female TDs in other key roles".

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the junior ministers were unlikely to be nominated or named this week. He also said he wouldn't anticipate Mr Kenny would decide to include more women in their ranks, but said: "We have more women in the Cabinet than there has been in the history of the State. We'll take it from there."

Choices

Meanwhile, Dublin Bay South TD Eoghan Murphy, who had been tipped for a Cabinet position, said it would be "a bit presumptuous to be disappointed" that he didn't get one.

"You never know how these things are going to go. It's a great new team," he added.

He said he would be delighted to get a junior minister role, but added "there's a lot of people there who'd make very good junior ministers.

"There's a lot of strength and depth in the Fine Gael party. So he's going to have difficult choices to make."

Independent Alliance (IA) TDs Seán Canney and Kevin 'Boxer' Moran have agreed to rotate a junior minister post between them, and both have expressed an interest in responsibility for flood prevention.

Their IA colleague John Halligan is also expected to be nominated for a post and said he was interested in the area of sport, but said of Mr Kenny's decision: "What he offers me, he offers me."

Clare deputy Dr Michael Harty said he had not yet been given an indication whether he would get one of the jobs on offer.

He said he would accept one if it came and that health would be the area he was most interested in.

Irish Independent

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