GENDER has nothing to do with the recent decisions by two senior Labour women to resign from politics, according to party leader, Eamon Gilmore.
He said he was “surprised” with the announcement on Tuesday that Mary Upton will quit at the next general election – which came just weeks after a similar announcement by former deputy Labour leader, Liz McManus.
Their decisions, along with that of Fine Gael’s Olwyn Enright, has ignited debate about gender imbalances in the Dáil where just 23 out of 166 TDs are female.
Speaking from the Ploughing Championships in Athy, Mr Gilmore said the departure of Deputies Upton and McManus had nothing to do with their gender as they were both very successful politicians over a number of years.
“We are acutely conscious as a party there are not enough women in politics. There are not enough women in the Dáil and it is a very unbalanced chamber.
“I do not think it is good that laws are made by a parliament which is disproportionately represented in gender terms,” he said.
Mr Gilmore said that was why Labour had always put a very strong emphasis on women candidates and increasing the number of women in Dáil Eireann.
He said Ms Upton had been an excellent public representative and, while there was always a difficulty when a sitting TD stepped down, he was confident there were two Labour seats in her Dublin South Central constituency.
He also said the real difficulty with Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Fianna Fáil was not the controversy over a drinking session in Galway over the past week, but that they had made a mess of the economy.
“The problem we have in this country now is that they created the problem. They blew the property bubble.
“They were responsible for the light regulation which led to the difficulties in the banking situation.
“They mismanaged the crisis and the blanket guarantee and now they are simply a Government serving out its notice,” he told reporters at the national ploughing championships in Athy, Co Kildare.
Mr Gilmore said this country can’t afford to spend the next 18 month saddled with a Government in which the people have no confidence and are simply serving out their notice in order to minimise their electoral damage to themselves.
He said it was a Government which the international community and financial world had no confidence.
“The sooner we have an election, an opportunity for the people to decide who should be running the country, the better, the sooner we can recover,” he said.
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