Wednesday 16 August 2017

'She wouldn't be getting half the criticism if she was a man' – Chief whip defends party colleague Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Mary Mitchell O'Connor (left) and Regina Doherty (right)
Mary Mitchell O'Connor (left) and Regina Doherty (right)
Daire Courtney

Daire Courtney

Fine Gael’s Chief Whip has hit out at party critics suggesting that party colleague Mary Mitchell O’Connor would not face the same level of criticism if she were a man.

Regina Doherty was responding to an article in the Irish Times at the weekend which quoted party colleagues as saying the minister is "not up to the job".

Ms Doherty told RTE Morning Ireland: “I think I can say this as a woman, I don’t think there’s a single article that has ever been written about a male politician in the same vein, simple as that. She would not be getting half of the criticism she’s currently getting if she was a man.”

“She is ambitious for her role, she is working 24/7, and she is doing the absolute best that she can do, and I think people should just leave her alone and let her get on with it,” she continued.

Regina Doherty
Regina Doherty

The Chief Whip also hit out at Michéal Martin, who yesterday said his party had “succeeded in stopping many of the most damaging Fine Gael policies.”

In a speech on Sunday Mr Martin said: “Their [Fine Gael] increasingly right-wing agenda and focus on tax cuts weighted to help the wealthiest most has been blocked. Some of the worst damage which their policies caused in the last five years have begun to be unwound."

But Ms Doherty responded: “He points out that he thinks Fine Gael are more interested in tax cuts than Fianna Fáil would be, yet in the manifesto Fianna Fáil wanted to cut €2.9 billion worth of tax cuts and we only proposed over the next number of years to cut €2.4. Now does that make them more right-wing than we are?”

She continued: “You know what I’d love to see, and maybe the centre would hold and people would have a choice in the centre, if Fianna Fáil, instead of having a pop at everybody in cheap shots, would actually tell us how they would run the country any differently to when they destroyed it.

“He was foreign affairs minister for years; why doesn’t he stand up and tell us how he would deal with Brexit differently than Fine Gael would? He was the health minister for years and he did nothing, and now he wants to have a pop at Leo.”

The Chief Whip added to her statements about Fianna Fáil today on High Noon with George Hook, saying that the FF leader “annoys [her] with the spin.”

“There’s an ongoing thread or theme here of attacking the man instead of playing the ball,” Regina Doherty said in reference to Michéal Martin’s comments yesterday.

“We invited them to come into government in February and they said no. They’re much more interested in the spin of saying they’re controlling government from outside.”

Ms Doherty also made her support for Enda Kenny clear, saying “I think he said on Saturday that he’ll be around to see the Pope [in 2018] and I hope to be standing beside him.”

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