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'Women not to blame for our bank debacle'

IRELAND'S economic meltdown and rebuilding could provide a greater role for Irish women in the future, former Progressive Democrat TD and junior minister Liz O'Donnell has said.

Ms O'Donnell said that women were "noticeably absent from the cast of players implicated in our national bankruptcy".

And with the country now looking to mend its battered financial reputation, the former TD believes this could be the time to address and solve the issue of gender inequality in politics.

"If women had nothing to do with it, it begs the question 'Why not?' And if we want to learn from the mistakes of the past and build a better Ireland is it not reasonable to take steps to ensure power is more equally shared between men and women?" she writes in this month's edition of Irish Tatler.

Ms Donnell served as a TD for her South Dublin constituency for 15 years before losing her seat in the 2007 general election. She admits her decision to enter politics was a momentous one, and while her time as a TD was not without difficulty, it is something she looks back on with satisfaction.

"When I went into politics in 1991 as a young lawyer and a mother of two, I did so with considerable trepidation. With no family background in politics, I was a reluctant politician."

But she added: "I am as rare as a unicorn. Only 11 women have served in the Cabinet since the foundation of the State."

Ms O'Donnell is now urging voters to write to political leaders and demand more choice on their party tickets.

"If you agree that this cannot be left to the failed political status quo, write to political leaders and demand a choice of men and women on the ticket next time," she said.