Tuesday 25 October 2016

Women don't need gender quotas to succeed in politics

Published 30/09/2015 | 02:30

Mary Hanafin
Mary Hanafin

As someone who fell out of love with Fianna Fáil in recent years, particularly during the Brian Cowen era, I still find myself admiring the determination of some of those who lost their seats to try to rise again.

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The Irish love to see business people who have fallen on hard times make it again, yet there's scant regard for politicians who do the same. I see Mary Hanafin narrowly missed out on a nomination but I have little doubt that we will see her back in Dáil Eireann, possibly one day even leading the "Soldiers of Destiny" back to the promised land.

This poses another question: how did she rise in politics in a time when the word "quota" was only used when discussing farming?

Nature has dictated that women carry a child for nine months and indeed nature will then instil an overwhelming desire to continue that bonding process for another few months - and no attempt by mankind to change that will make a difference.

That time out of any woman's career to have a child is critical and it has taken many generations for families to readjust to accommodate the changing role for women in today's society, but it is working.

More and more woman are running large companies, and more women holding powerful positions in governments - and in some cases, running them, as is the case with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

There is now the real possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the most powerful women in the world as American president, all achieved without, I might add, "gender quotas".

You now have the ludicrous situation where a woman may be selected just because she's a woman, while her more qualified male counterpart is asked to stand aside just to accommodate this new quota.

Leave the system alone, I say; the cream will always rise to the top. And through their struggle to get there, politicians will become stronger and better equipped to deal with the demands of high office, as "the best steel passes through the hottest furnace".

It is not too long ago that the women's lib organisation was burning bras outside the GPO.

I think that the way things are going, it won't be long before Dubliners get the smell of smouldering underpants drifting over the city, emanating from outside the same building!

Eugene McGuinness


Cost of poor public transport

The news that a revised Metro North has emerged as the preferred option to provide a long-awaited railway link between Dublin Airport and Dublin city centre is very welcome. It is due to form the centrepiece of the Government's soon-to-be-unveiled capital plan,

The news that the Government is still committed to the Dart Underground project, albeit in a redesigned form, is also welcome.

The problem of inadequate public transport in the capital is a negative experience which commuters have to endure daily, but it is also hindering us in terms of attracting or retaining major international events for Dublin. It is believed, for example, that a significant factor in the decision of the Web Summit's organisers to move the event from Dublin to Lisbon was their lack of confidence that delegates would be able to efficiently get to and from the venue when travelling from different parts of the city (Irish Independent, September 24).

An ambitious capital plan involving an "optimised" Metro North and redesigned Dart Underground would also go a long way toward our country's goal of securing the hosting of the world's third-largest sporting event, the Rugby World Cup, in 2023.

Although eight years would be a short time to complete even one of these two projects, if it was begun this year, we might have a sporting chance of completing Metro North from the airport to the city centre.

Even if it was not realistic to build Metro North before 2023, a statement from the Government that it is committed to the radical improvement of the public transport options for Dublin would help to improve the confidence of the organisers of World Rugby in Ireland as a good location for the sport's showpiece event.

John B Reid

Monkstown, Co Dublin

Protect faith schools' rights

I was shocked to learn about the content of the new programme 'Different Families, Same Love', which is being proposed for all primary schools in the country (Irish Independent, September 25).

In the run-up to the marriage referendum we were assured by the Government that the result would not affect existing marriages and that denominational schools would still be allowed to teach what they believe about marriage and the family. In common with many other parents, I do not want the education of our primary school children to include concepts of gender-neutral marriage and transgenderism.

Eamon Fitzpatrick


Risks for tech-savvy youngsters

I recently read in your newspaper an article in which Finance Minister Michael Noonan stated that every child must be given an iPad at the age of five to make Ireland a more tech-savvy country. (Irish Independent, September 26).

I disagree with Mr Noonan's statement for various reasons. At the age of five, a child is learning how to read and write. I think that a five-year-old should learn how to read and write before learning how to use an iPad.

Research has shown that excessive use of electronic devices may lead to headaches, shoulder and neck pains and the weakening of the eyes.

The light emitted from tablets can strain your eyes and could lead to eye problems.

What's more, children need to learn how to interact with others. Using an iPad daily will decrease interaction with others.

I believe learning how to read, write and interact with your peers are more valuable lessons than learning how to turn on an iPad.

Claire Cooney (13)


Dearth of business ethics

While Volkswagen's actions may elicit a "sneaking regard" (Irish Independent, September 27), they also reinforce the suspicion that ethics in business are a thing of the past. This breeds a cynicism about modern life that is corrosive and depressing.

As usual, the highly paid perpetrators are untouchable and ordinary people pay the price, not least by unwittingly contributing to air pollution and, by extension, global warming.

The betrayal of Germany's hard-earned reputation for technical and engineering reliability, for the sake of short-term profit, surely indicates a loss of core values at the highest level in business that negatively affects us all.

Maeve Halpin

Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Irish Independent

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