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Sunday 25 February 2018

National Women’s Council says Irish politics ‘long way to go’ in attitudes towards women

THE Dail has been branded as a “woman un-friendly place” as the controversy surrounding the ‘horseplay’ incident deepens.

Speaking earlier today, the National Women’s Council have said if more women are to enter Irish politics, attitudes have to change.

Speaking on RTE Radio, the council’s co-ordinator Eoin Murray said Irish politics has a “long way to go” before things can change.

He was speaking as the reaction to Dail footage which shows Fine Gael’s Tom Barry pulling party colleague Aine Collins onto his lap during the abortion debate grew.

“My first response [upon seeing the video] was that this shows what a woman un-friendly place Dail Eireann is and Irish politics is.

“Even though the government has brought in quotas, that isn’t going to be the solution to all of our problems.”

The Dail is the centre of Irish democracy, Mr Murray said, and the highest standards of behaviour are expected.

“We have to expect that in the Dail, the heart of our democracy, the standards of behaviour are at their very best and their very highest.

“And I don’t see why politicians in the Dail should not be subject to the same rules and standards that we would expect in a normal workplace around Ireland,” he added.

When asked if the affair had been brought to a close following Mr Barry’s apology, Mr Murray said it was up to Ms Collins to decide what she wanted to do next.

“If she’s happy to accept the apology, that’s fine with me,” he said.

However, he’s hoping that Fine Gael and other political parties will learn some lessons from this.

Mr Murray said he hopes that parties will talk to all their members, and ensure that the Dail, Seanad and council chambers are “free from any kind of sexist behaviour so that women feel that politics is a welcoming space.

“Because most women in Ireland today don’t feel that politics is a place where they are welcome,” he said.

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