'There's never been an article that critical of a male politician' - Fine Gael backs Mary
Senior Fine Gael figures have rallied around Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor amid claims she has floundered since her appointment to Cabinet.
Ms Mitchell O'Connor has been the subject of a series of negative media reports which claim Fine Gael TDs don't believe she is fit for the job.
A report in the 'Irish Times' on Saturday quoted unnamed colleagues, business people and civil servants criticising her performance since her promotion to Cabinet in May.
The report also referenced Ms Mitchell O'Connor's nail polish and driving skills.
But speaking yesterday, a number of Ms Mitchell O'Connor's ministerial colleagues came to her defence.
Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty questioned whether the criticism is due to Ms Mitchell O'Connor being a woman.
"I think they (critical comments) are unfair. And actually, I can say this as a woman, I don't think there's been a single article that ever has been written about a male politician in the same vein. It's as simple as that," Ms Doherty told RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland'.
"She would not be getting half of the criticism she is currently getting if she was a man.
"Mary Mitchell O'Connor is ambitious for her role. She is working 24/7 and she is doing the absolutely best she can do. I think people should leave her alone and give her an opportunity to be able to shine," Ms Doherty added.
Speaking to reporters in Tallaght, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said Ms Mitchell O'Connor has been in the job for less than six months.
Mr Varadkar said, from his own experience, it takes time to get familiar with the ministerial brief.
"Mary Mitchell O'Connor is a close colleague of mine and a personal friend. I do think she needs to be given a chance to really establish herself as a minister. She's a first-time minister, hadn't had a chance to serve as a minister for state, came in really from the backbenches as a minister, as I did, really, six years ago," Mr Varadkar said.
"I know from that experience that it takes about six months to find your way around the brief and really get on top of it. I've seen her go from strength to strength so far in her brief and I think we need to give her a chance," he added.