Greens 'missed an opportunity' to promote women to prominent cabinet roles, Catherine Martin says

Catherine Martin has said her party "missed an opportunity" to promote women and heal divisions when appointing ministers.
Greens 'missed an opportunity' to promote women to prominent cabinet roles, Catherine Martin says
Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Catherine Martin has said her party "missed an opportunity" to promote women and heal divisions when appointing ministers.

The comments from the Green Party deputy leader come as the party battle accusations of sexism within their membership in recent weeks, bolstered by one of their most prominent spokespeople being overlooked for a government appointment.

The appointment of three men as Ministers of State was the prerogative of Eamon Ryan as leader, Ms Martin told RTÉ Morning Ireland.

“As a female politician and someone who set up our own green group Mná Glása, I would always seek to promote women, but having said that all Green Party Ministers who are there are good for the job, and I respect the decision," she said.

Mr Ryan shocked those around Leinster House when choosing a senator for his "super junior" minister, Pippa Hackett who is now Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, and went on to pick several other men for top roles, notably leaving out party finance spokesperson Neasa Hourigan.

Some within the party viewed Ms Hourigan's absence from the cabinet table as a direct consequence of her vocal opposition to entering government with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

A split formed within the party during government negotiations, with around a quarter of members against entering coalition, amid ongoing rows around the issue.

Ms Martin, now the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht is currently in a leadership race with Eamon Ryan.

She added that women who have proven they are ready and able should be promoted and directly referenced the need to heal the split within her party.

“We should always seek to promote because young girls cannot aim to be what they cannot see," she said.

"We should always be seeking to promote women.

“There was a missed opportunity to promote women and a missed opportunity to unite the party, nobody who voted no or advocated no to the programme for government was promoted to ministerial position and I think that was a missed opportunity to unite.

“We are a party that respects debate and having those voices at the ministerial table would have been welcome.”

When asked about an accusation of misogyny within the party by Cork Green Party Councillor Lorna Bogue, who has spoken at length about her experiences of "harassment" within the party, Ms Martin said: “I think we have to be seen to do more - we talk the talk in relation to promoting diversity and inclusivity, but if we're not acting on it I think that's regrettable and something I would like to see changed.”

Cllr Lorna Bogue, Green Party Councillor for Cork City South East
Cllr Lorna Bogue, Green Party Councillor for Cork City South East

Ms Martin's comments come after emails between Mná Glasa members seen by the Irish Examiner detail concerns about the lack of female representation on the party's front bench.

"Whatever explanations or arguments may be made for this, the fact remains: a female Green TD was passed over for a position that she was qualified for and has demonstrated ability to do time and again," one email read.

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