Wednesday 21 March 2018

It's tough being a woman TD in a Dail chamber run by the boys

WITH just 25 women TDs in the Dail, it's perhaps unfair to expect the debate on the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill to be more feminised than it has been to date. Fortunately, women are well represented in the medical professionals informing the committee hearings. But female TDs with liberal credentials appear reluctant to speak up. Conservative women have no such qualms.

Of course, the anti-abortion lobby is in top gear. Beleaguered deputies both male and female should take courage from recent polls which suggest steady public support for the legislation. All of which vindicates the Taoiseach's stance. But he could do with some female support on this divisive issue. The sad fact is that women are a minority grouping in the Dail – and it shows.

Since the foundation of the State, Dail Eireann has been overwhelmingly male. When I entered the Dail in 1992 there was a high of 22 women elected. In the 20 years since, the pace of progress has been glacial. So much so that the body politic has eventually come round to the need for positive action to increase the numbers of women elected.

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