Saturday 22 October 2016

Gender quotas give voters the choices they deserve

Published 14/05/2015 | 02:30

We need more women in politics, not fewer, to make a difference
We need more women in politics, not fewer, to make a difference

Ian O'Doherty tells us that having 30pc of candidates female is equivalent to a "nail" being "hammered into the coffin of our democracy" [Irish Independent, May 12].

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Our democracy, like all democracies, has its faults and failings - but it is not in a coffin.

The fact that men will be down from more than 90pc of the candidates over most of the time since independence, to a mere 70pc of candidates at the next election, is described by Ian O'Doherty as "rigging the candidate list".

He says that any woman on the ballot paper in the next election will not be "simply getting the best person for the job".

The answer to that is to ask the question if the nearly 90pc-male Dáil, which voted through the policies which bankrupted the country, was made up of the best candidates?

He finds voting for someone on the basis of their gender "stupid" and "deeply crass".

Why is voting for members of the majority of the electorate - women - any less legitimate than voting for people for political, social or geographical reasons?

He thinks that any woman who puts herself forward as a candidate in the next election should feel "uncomfortable".

That is patronising and indefensible.

Surely, if democracy is to mean anything, he must leave the decisions as to who will put themselves forward for election to all the citizens of this Republic, including women. He also states that "the road to mediocrity is signposted by gender quotas".

How can making efforts to stop the marginalisation of the talents, interests and perspectives of women contribute to mediocrity?

Lastly, he tries to equate efforts to increase the representation of women as "restricting voter choice".

Trying to deal with the issue of the under-representation of women by getting more women on the ballot paper is actually the opposite of restricting voter choice.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13


Taoiseach contradicts himself

Taoiseach Enda Kenny claims (Irish Independent, April 27) that the proposed marriage amendment will effect no change in marriage. However, he blatantly contradicts himself in the course of his piece, thus showing how mistaken and misleading his claim is.

Mr Kenny wants first to reassure religious believers that the sacrament of marriage will not be affected. He writes that "it is important to highlight that this change affects civil, not religious, marriages".

Thus, Mr Kenny admits the change to be brought about by the amendment would change civil marriages. And he contrasts this with religious marriages, which he admits will remain unchanged.

But then he claims the opposite: "Importantly, marriage equality will not in any way affect the institution of marriage."

He writes this in the very same paragraph as his claim that only civil marriage will be changed and not religious marriage.

It is clear to me that the Taoiseach made a big mistake here. In trying to reassure religious people that their marriage will not be changed/affected, he admits that civil marriage will change because of the amendment.

Why is the amendment considered necessary to allow same-sex couples to 'marry'? Because the Irish Constitution, and our law more generally, contains an understanding of marriage that makes it impossible for a same-sex couple to marry.

The amendment introduces a radically new (mis)understanding of marriage into the Constitution, and family law, a definition of marriage as a genderless institution. Throughout Irish and world history and culture, marriage has not been understood or defined as genderless.

Marriage may not be unchangeable in all its aspects, but some aspects have stayed the same throughout history and across cultures, virtually universally.

The relationship being a male-female union is one of the most constant parts of the definition of marriage we have.

If the amendment is put into article 41 ('The Family'), the State will no longer recognise the union of a woman and man as a distinct and uniquely valuable relationship worthy of promotion and protection for the sake of the family and children.

That would be a very big change indeed, and a great loss. .

John Murray

Iona Institute, Dublin


Marriage referendum issues

While most people will not have needed it, Justice Kevin Cross of the Referendum Commission provided some welcome clarification on RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland' programme on the issue of surrogacy.

He stated that, currently, heterosexual couples have no automatic entitlement to surrogacy or other artificially-assisted means of procreation under the Irish Constitution.

Hence, equal recognition for same-gender couples won't give them any such right either.

He also said that plans by the Government to regulate surrogacy would not be impacted by the result of the referendum.

Would it be too much to expect that those opposing the marriage referendum will now take down those 'Vote No to Surrogacy' posters?

Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

Co Cavan


The Iona Institute's recent statement that two men or women would be able to marry for tax reasons after a 'Yes' vote makes one wonder if they're aware that a man and woman can do this already. It also makes one wonder whether anyone would be foolish enough to treat such a statement seriously.

There is an ongoing problem of sham marriages in Ireland in which men from non-European countries pay to marry European women so that they can legally reside here.

If the Iona Institute is really concerned about the "sanctity of marriage", could one of their spokespersons please explain why they're raising red herrings rather than addressing this issue?

Aidan O'Sullivan



Public sector 'not greedy'

Mel Gorman (Letters, May 13) would do well to get his facts accurate before commenting on the "greedy public sector".

He claims that the public sector "want to stop paying for their own pensions".

Presumably this accusation is based on the erroneous belief that the "pension levy" is a contribution towards a pension. Superannuation is the compulsory deduction from public servants for pensions.

The "pension levy" is a pay cut which does not show in pay statistics, adding insult to injury.

The Government cleverly used the term "pension levy" to take from the public servants and create the impression, conveniently, that it was somehow connected to a pension contribution.

Philomena Doherty

Bray, Co Wicklow

Irish Independent

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