Saturday 21 September 2019

Seanad suspended over 'misogyny' row

Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee
Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A ROW over alleged misogyny led to the suspension of the Seanad today.

A remark made by Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer to Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee led to chaotic scenes, as the Seanad was suspended by the Cathaoirleach, Denis O’Donovan, who described the back and forth as “nonsense”.

Ms Clifford Lee was faced with accusations of “damaging the cause of women” after she called on Mr Buttimer to withdraw a remark she described as misogynistic.

Mr Buttimer said: “I know Senator Clifford-Lee is trying to assert herself here but it is important to listen as well.”

Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer
Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer

Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine said the language was “not good”, prompting Ms Clifford Lee - who has recently been appointed deputy leader for her party in the Seanad - to describe it as “very gendered”.

Mr Buttimer repeatedly objected to the suggestion that the comment was misogynistic and said he has never been accused of making personal comments in the House.

He refused to withdraw the remark, saying “I enjoy the rough and tumble of politics but I have never in my 12 years in the Oireachtas been personal or made personal charges against people.”

“I make a political charge and the Members of the House will vouch for that.  I am very disappointed,” he said.

Fine Gael Senator Gabrielle McFadden urged Ms  Ms Clifford Lee refused to withdraw her comments and said: “She is damaging the cause of women.  She should withdraw her remark.”

However, Ms Clifford Lee questioned if the comment would have been made to a man and said she will continue to call out misogynistic language.

Mr O’Donovan suspended the Chamber telling members: “What is going on here is nonsense.”

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