Saturday 19 January 2019

Simon Harris: 'All politicians need help. I've a very good wife'

Simon Harris with wife Caoimhe Wade
Simon Harris with wife Caoimhe Wade
Health Minister Simon Harris. Picture: Fergal Phillips

Cormac McQuinn and Ryan Nugent

Simon Harris says every politician needs support networks of family and friends and that he himself has a "very good wife".

It comes as his ministerial colleague Josepha Madigan sparked debate when she encouraged women to run for political office, and advising them to "get a good husband" if they do.

Mr Harris and his wife Caoimhe are expecting their first child and it was put to him that there are work-life balance issues for male politicians as well.

"All of us who enter public life are very reliant on the support of family and friends.

"It is a lifestyle that doesn't really respect normal working hours," he said.

"It's one that can be very busy - frenetic at times - and I think that's the point Minister Madigan was making."

Mr Harris said that he himself has "a very good wife" and that "different things work for different people".

"It certainly helps me to have a good support network as well," he added, saying he doesn't think the issue is "gender specific".

"Whether it's a husband, a wife, a partner, whatever, I think it's good to be able to have the support of others as we go about what are often very busy jobs," he said.

On Saturday, the Irish Independent reported how Ms Madigan advised aspiring women politicians to speak to those who had done it before: "Get good childcare, get a good husband, have the confidence and don't over-think it."

Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte - a widow and mother of three - responded to the remarks saying women don't need a husband to succeed in politics and that it's "fire in the belly" that makes the difference.

She said she has the support of family, friends and staff in pursuing her political career.

Ms Madigan, a mother of two, last night said she agrees with Ms Rabbitte, adding the point she was making was a tribute to her own husband for the support he offers. She added: "If you're a politician, whatever family support you have is going to be crucial."

Irish Independent

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