Two-thirds of female senators report being sexually harassed

'When there's too many men, with perceived power, in a bubble that Leinster House is, they think they can act however they want'
Two-thirds of female senators report being sexually harassed

Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann Mark Daly said he will raise these figures at the next meeting of the Houses of Oireachtas Commission.

Over two-thirds of female senators in the Seanad have been sexually harassed, the Irish Examiner can reveal.

An anonymous survey carried out by this newspaper, a week after a similar survey of female TDs, received responses from 17 out of 19 female senators.

Of those 17, some 13 female senators have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives, 14 have been subject to a sexist insult or remark from a man while working in politics, and 16 have been abused or 'trolled' with sexist insults on social media.

The stark figures are worse in the Seanad than those in the Dáil, which recorded that 12 out of 25 respondents had been sexually harassed.

One elected representative, who has worked in Leinster House for a number of years, said the figures "are the tip of the iceberg".

"I used to get text messages on my outfit, or telling me I was lovely, or 'It was great to see you, nicer to watch you walk away'," she said.

"Here I am, very young, in my dream job in Dáil Éireann having to deal with leering men, and you think 'Is this all I am?', afraid of getting into lifts with people.

"It took a lot of maturity to get over it. I felt like I lost my voice working in the Dáil. I still worry about the clothes I wear.

"When there's too many men, with perceived power, in a bubble that Leinster House is, they think they can act however they want. There's a culture of blind-eyedness and sheep mentality.

"It's a huge problem in all workplaces, maybe it's more pronounced in the Oireachtas, but I think there's a lot to do and it will only change when more women are involved at all levels.

The only solution is to call it out, make it unacceptable.

Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann Mark Daly said he will raise these figures at the next meeting of the Houses of Oireachtas Commission.

"These figures are unacceptable in any part of Irish society," he said.

"They show how far a journey we have to travel so that we have an equal society based on openness and respect.

"To ensure that the Dáil and Seanad is a workplace based on these principles, the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission published its Dignity and Respect Statement of Principles and Policy last year.

"The Examiner's survey results are a reminder that we need to ensure that everyone in this House and in politics generally lives the principles outlined in our Dignity and Respect Statement — otherwise we are failing women in politics and people in general.

"As a member now of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, I intend to raise the ongoing implementation of the Dignity and Respect Statement of Principles and Policy at the next meeting of the commission. It is important to ensure that all deputies, senators, and staff are aware of this framework which encourages a culture of openness and respect."

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