Editorial: Kenny did women no favours in this reshuffle
Published 16/07/2014 | 02:30
IF the mid-term cabinet reshuffle was aimed at sending out new, positive messages, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has failed utterly in respect of the promotion of women in politics. Nor has he made any apology for it. This Government, to its credit, has won plaudits at home and abroad by fortifying, on merit, the representation of women in the legal profession.
The posts of Chief Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Chief State Solicitor, amongst others, are all held by women. Almost a third of judges are now female.
Diane Abbott, the former British Labour MP – and the first black woman elected to the House of Commons – once mused that it is because politics is so important that it is the last arena men are prepared to give up. It is hard to rebut the presumption that this inequitable vein also runs through Irish politics.
It is an incontrovertible fact that just 25 women were elected to the Dail in 2011, a figure that reflects the fundamental grassroots problem of securing more female participation in local and national politics.
However, there were at least four, if not more, women tipped for junior ministerial office within the Fine Gael parliamentary party ranks: not one woman was appointed.
Labour leader Joan Burton has placed the female agenda at the heart of her politics, but has not fully protected that agenda in the reshuffle.
The electorate does not want tokenism.
But we cannot be blind – at a time when the Government is being criticised over its treatment of Irish women before the United Nations – to the fact that 50pc of the population does not have a proper voice in Irish politics.