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Politics Articles

The Role of Dail Deputies – John Fagan MGH 2

The walls of the room are adorned with pictures of Richie Healy and the famous people he has met. It is not a show of decadence or cockiness however this was just his job! I look to my right there is a picture of Richie with Charles Haughey, to the left of that a picture with a youthful Bertie Ahern and Martin Mansergh, skipping a few more very well known politicians and there is a picture of Richie with a certain incumbent leader, Brian Cowen. Littered among the myriad of these pictures, a shrine to Fianna Fail you could say, are pictures of Richie with Gerry Adams and also various members of the SDLP and Sinn Fein. The setting seems to be an odd one, a show of unity between both factions.

This was no ordinary picture though. Richie Healy played an instrumental part at the beginning of the peace process. As a member of the Fianna Fail national executive in 1987, Mr. Healy was asked by the then Taoiseach, to travel to Dundalk with Martin Mansergh and Dermot Ahern for secret meetings with members of the SDLP and Sinn Fein. The contacts were being denied by the government if they were revealed.
Mr. Healy joined Fianna Fail in the 1950’s and quickly rose to become director of elections in 1972. He oversaw 10 general elections, three presidential elections, five local elections and fifteen referendums. Sitting in this room, surrounded by such fascinating memorabilia and collages of success, I felt I was asking the most inane of questions. However Mr. Healy was more than happy to oblige.
After witnessing the latest general elections and seeing that political reform was at the top of everybody’s agenda I asked Richie what his thoughts were on the separation of local and national politics and whether Dail deputies were better served concentrating on national matters and handing local affairs over to councillors, “ I think local issues should be defined better and jobs and responsibilities of councillors should be clearly delineated so that Dail deputies have more time free in order to deal with more important issues at national level”. Surprisingly when asked about the theory of “brokerage politics” and how it can be time consuming and could lead to neglect of other matters Mr. Healy gave an honest and forthright reply, “It is true that some ,local issues can take up an awful lot of time of elected deputies, it possibly is in the hands of each deputy to limit the amount of time wasting he will put up with when faced with local problems and party members”.
Challenging Mr. Healy I asked were TD’s more interested in pleasing the local electorate rather than dealing with national matters in order to get votes, “well the nature of our democracy is the candidate depends on the vote of the local electorate and he is going to find it extremely difficult to get votes in an election if he does not spend time with his constituents”. He further explained he couldn’t agree with the proposition that constituents were the clientele of their TD, “they are the power brokers for each TD, if they don’t like his work they won’t vote for him”.
When I accused TD’s of being perhaps not being passionate enough in their constituency work and only partaking to garner votes I was met with this retort, “the vast majority of elected deputies have the interests of the country at heart as well as the interest of their constituents and it’s a balancing act to satisfy both ends of their work”.
Meeting the new government with sympathy about their plight in office, Mr. Healy was as diplomatic as ever true to his natural instincts. However in true Fianna Fail style the credentials of the party were never to be questioned, “I think they (Fianna Fail) laid the groundwork for the rescue of the economy and the new coalition seem to be following their template with some of their own innovative ideas and I suppose we’ll have to give them a chance to see will they perform”. When questioned about the fact that the democracy we live in seemed to play to its very strengths on the basis of Fianna Fail’s election results and manifested the people’s disgust of the party, I asked were they punished by the electorate. Clearly still a sensitive issue I was met with the rapid response of “of course they were” and no further comment.
We swiftly moved onto the topic of electoral reform, a recent topic of debate here and in Britain and I wondered was it time to perhaps follow the U.K’s lead and have a referendum on changing the PR-STV electoral system, “I think the system suits Ireland where there are a myriad of parties from time to time, seeking the public’s votes, it is probably the best system to represent the diverse views of the electorate”. Mr. Healy also feels it is an advantage to have a running mates in an election “I think each party are now very experienced at vote management and it is seldom a disadvantage to have a running mate because they will bring extra votes to the party…I think it is an advantage for each contender to have a running mate.”

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Irish Emigration to the EU and beyond – Emma Duggan MGH 2

Well educated and highly skilled graduates are fleeing jobless Ireland by the plane and boat load every day in search of greener pastures. Up to 1000 of us are departing every week, a figure that is sure to rise in the coming months when the final exams are done and we have even more qualified teachers, nurses, quantity surveyors, beauticians, radio and TV producers and so on and so forth seeking employment. After at least three or four years of hard work (partying aside), when it comes to the crunch would you rather sign on the dole whilst handing your second or third CV into your local Centra in hope of a few euro or would you rather pack your bags and set up camp some where new and exciting with promising job offers. Most students are hopping on those planes and getting out of here as quick as possible.
The ability to do this roots from our membership of the EU. Apart from non members like Australia, the US and Canada which you need visa’s for, EU membership has made it possible for us to travel and work freely within any of the member states a full list of which is available at www.europa.eu

Although EU membership has made this all possible you have to wonder is it also at the root of the problem. Ireland is constantly making further cut backs due to the IMF-EU bailout plan. The government is making all these cut backs making it even harder on graduates by hiking up the taxation for those lucky enough to have a job and not having any way out for those forced to emigrate. It is working both ways, as according to the Central Statistics Office Ireland formerly had the second highest immigration figures during the celtic tiger which fell rapidly from the period of April 2009 to April 2010 from 57,300 to 30,800.

According to a recent EU education report published in April this year, Ireland has more 30 – 34 year olds with a third level qualification than anywhere else in the EU. This figure well surpasses the “Europe 2020” target of 40% set in 2009. Because of the lack of employment we are losing this talented generation to our neighbouring countries with better prospects.

Ireland once was, in better financial times, an attractive country for major companies to invest in setting up businesses. Since the downturn we have seen the closure of many of these multi national companies who have opted to operate in countries where running costs are lower and spending is higher.
Under the revised Lisbon strategy employment has been made an absolute priority during the period 2007 – 2013. Hopefully the best they have to offer is yet to come as the commission encourages different policy approaches according to key economic sectors.
While there are jobs there to be had, not many are graduate friendly requiring anywhere between two and four years experience at least. This is where the government and the EU need to invest in a scheme offering an alternative way for graduates with insufficient experience to gain employment in the field they are qualified for.
Although EU law allows us to work within the EU, national law should be revised to make it possible to stay here to work if desired with programmes and incentives for qualified people.

The Government is due to announce details of a job initiative in the Dáil next Tuesday 10th of May according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny. His speech on IrishTimes.com
Stated “I stress the fact… I make no bones about this… it is not going to solve Irelands unemployment problem overnight”. The initiative discussed when the cabinet re convened after the Easter break, contains a variety of measures. One of which is expected to be eliminating the travel tax for air passengers which was introduced in the 2009 budget.
This gives hope for the future for students still in college, that when the time comes around for them to go out into the world of employment after graduation that Ireland will be able to accommodate those who wish to gain employment at home rather than abroad.
The nation will be anticipating the government announcement hoping it will cause a reverse in the emigration surge we are currently experiencing.

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Carla McElwee

Katie Kelly

MGH2

European Politics

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) exists to support workers who lose their jobs as a result of changing global trade patterns. It helps them find new jobs.  When a large enterprise shuts down or a factory is relocated to a country outside the EU, or a whole sector loses many jobs in a region, the EGF can help the redundant workers to find new jobs as quickly as possible. A maximum amount of € 500 million per year is available to the EGF to finance such interventions.

It was established in 2007, and in 2009 the conditions for assistance were eased for a limited time so that workers who have been made redundant as a result of the current financial and economic crisis can also be helped.

Only Member States may apply to the EGF. The initiative for an application may come

from stakeholders in a redundancy case, or from the affected locality or region, or

from the social partners involved .The application has to be submitted by the

Member State and signed by a person authorised to represent the Member State.

Member States should provide clear statistical information and background, demonstrating that

redundancies follow: a sudden drop in consumer demand, a severe

slow-down of a particular economic sector, an increase of imports into the

EU, a rapid decline of the EU world market share in a particular sector, or the

relocation of production to a non EU country.

Since the early 90’s Ireland has been thriving, especially in businesses such as computing, technology and pharmaceutical’s.

The Dell plant in Limerick was no exception. It employed over 3000 people. However with the recession, Dell decided to pull out of Limerick. It had been open since 1990, and was one of the county’s main employers.

In January 2009 it was announced Computer multi-national Dell was that cutting 1,900 jobs at its plant in Limerick over the next 12 months.

Dell had made the decision to move all production of computer systems for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from Limerick to its Polish facility and third-party manufacturers over the next year.

Dells products made up at least 5.5% of Irish exports and 2% of gross domestic product – the total value of all goods and services produced within the economy.

Economists warned that each job at Dell underpins another four or five Irish jobs, and the knock on affects have been disastrous.

€14 million was put aside by the EGF for the people who lost their jobs in Dell. It also assisted the companies who were in a direct contractual relationship with DELL and were affected by the closure including – Banta Global Turnkey, IEC/Flextronics, Sercom, Sodexo, Cube, RPS Engineering, Rehab Logistics and Novo Strat. This was because of the knock of affect of the closure on many other companies. Eligible workers must have been in employment with the companies in question at the time of the announcement and made redundant no later than 31st January 2010.  Basically the EGF offers funding to workers mentioned above to retrain, and get better skills and offers further educational opportunities such as the learning of English as a foreign language.

Local state agencies and 3rd Level Educational Institutions have come together to provide a range of education and training courses specifically for redundant workers from DELL and the companies mentioned above. The agencies involved are: Institutes of Technology (Limerick, Tralee, Tipperary), University of Limerick, VECs, Mary Immaculate College, Enterprise Ireland & County & City Enterprise Boards and FÁS. Accredited technical courses by private providers may be eligible for payment of course fees under the FÁS EGF Training Grant on an individual basis and under certain conditions.

Unemployment in Europe now stands at 10%. Since its creation in 2007, the EGF has helped over 70,000 workers in Europe, through the appropriation of €350 million for second or third level training programs for redundant workers. Having been established only a few years ago, the EGF has to be improved and this is why the European Parliament’s Budget Committee has identified the problems with delays in procedures, and realised that it must be quicker in allocating money. The European Commission has already  allocated almost €50 million for the EGF budget line in the 2011 budget.

The EGF has helped Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia and Poland by allocating €19 million, as well as the Irish.This money went to helping 7,439 people get back into Employment. With the recession in full swing, and hardly any sign of a let up, it’s hard to know if the EGF will be enough. What it’s doing is great, but in the hard times to come, will it be enough? More initiatives like the EGF are needed for those who have been made redundant, and who had no skills in the first place.

Katie Kelly

MGH2

Women in Politics.

Women are completely under-represented in the Irish Government., and this cannot be denied. I recently spoke to Sinn Fèin Councillor Crìona Nì Dhàiligh in her Ballyfermot office about her career, and how she feels about the dismal amount of women in Irish politics today.

Crìona has always been very aware of what’s been going on around her. Even from a young age she saw her father work hard for his Trade Union. She had always been involved within the community and in community projects but it was when the hunger strikes started in 1981 that she began to think politically.

“I always took jobs involving the language, and then I started working for Aengus O’ Snodaigh in an advice centre.  I realised that working on the ground was all well and good, but in order to make a change, you have to think politically.”

Being the only female Sinn Fein councillor, Crìona cites that sometimes it can get quite lonely. “They’re all very obliging, and it was a big change for them too. But sometimes you just want a bit of women’s company”.  She seems to have been quite lucky in her career, saying she herself has never really experienced any sexism. However, when I asked her about other women she spoke to in politics she said “Yes, some women do feel that don’t get to prove themselves as much as men, and they don’t get listened to as much as men.”

I asked Crìona why she thought there were so few women in politics. She works on four regeneration projects, including the regeneration of St.Michaels House in Inchicore and says that most of the people running these community activism groups are women. “It seems that women just can’t seem to make that transition from community work to politics. Politics seems to be very alien to them and very male dominated.”

One of the main reasons many women feel they can’t be involved in politics is the lack of childcare for them. “In community projects, women share out the childcare amongst them. When you move into politics that comradeship isn’t there.”  And because women are always seen as the child-carers, it is the men who enter into jobs such as politics. Unfortunately!

I was interested in finding out Crìonas opinion on the introduction of Quotas to Ireland.  They were introduced in Spain. She laughed and showed me a booklet she got earlier in the day with a picture  of the Irish Cabinet on the cover.  You can barely see the women in the picture, it is completely male dominated.  “You can nearly smelly the testosterone coming off it!”

Crìona used to be totally against the introduction of quotas, and is still relatively against them. “If you get elected it should be based on your ability, and quotas can cause animosity.” But she does agree that there should be more women involved in politics.  “Women should be enabled to get to these positions with the implementation of better childcare and a better education system from a very young age.” Basically she thinks women should be encouraged from secondary school to get involved in politics.

A recent study has shown that Irish families spend a whopping 29% of their income on childcare. This is outrageous. In Germany the average amount is 11%, and France it is 8%. Why then are we being continually ripped off? Because here, constitutionally, women are still regarded as belonging in the home (Article 41), so childcare prices will remain high unless enough women enter into politics and change this dated outlook.

Throughout the entire interview, Criona emphasises the importance of women in community work, like how she started out. But, she makes the very valid point that this is not how legislation gets changed. If more women step up and enter into the political field, then there will be better decisions made in regards children and social decisions. This would in turn enable even more women to partake in a life of politics.

For more info on Crìona visit www. http://www.sinnfeindsc.com/crionanuidhaligh

E.U court rules that Non- E.U parents of citizens are entitled to residency

Evelyn Akpoviroro

On 17 July 2003, the then Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, announced that a backlog of 11,000 claims for residency for non-EU immigrant parents solely on the basis that they have become parents of Irish citizen children have been nullified, deportation letters were issued to thousands of families by the Department of justice.
The notices inform people that the Minister proposes to deport them,
and tell them that they have 15 working days to make written
representations for temporary leave to remain on humanitarian grounds, which may include parentage of Irish citizen, the length of time they have resided in Ireland and their family and domestic circumstances. Alternatively those issued with the notices can agree to voluntary return option.
While Irish citizens cannot be legally deported, they will be
practically obliged to leave the country with their parents as the then Minister made it clear he will not be ‘blackmailed’ by parents threatening to leave their children behind, and, if necessary, that the courts will compel them to take their citizen children with them.

Immigrant parents were bewildered and confused the Irish state was prepared to fund the cost of deportation, while the immigrants were not entitled to State-funded legal advice in preparing their submissions. Most families because of restrictions on getting jobs had no source of income to pay for private legal assistance. Hundreds of families who could afford it took their cases to the high court for judicial reviews seeking leave to appeal against deportation.
Ireland used to grant citizenship to anybody born in Ireland (the jus soli principle). The non-Irish parents of Irish-born children could then apply for residency in Ireland based on the Irish citizenship of their child. This led to concerns that non-Irish nationals, particularly asylum applicants, were traveling to Ireland and having children in order to gain that status.
Prior to January 2003, about 11,000 families with Irish-born children lawfully applied for residency.
After a referendum in 2004 and a subsequent constitutional amendment, citizenship laws changed so that any person born in Ireland after January 1, 2005, to non-Irish parents is not automatically entitled to Irish citizenship unless one of the parents was lawfully resident in Ireland for at least three out of the four years preceding the child’s birth (periods spent in Ireland as an asylum applicant or student are not considered).

In a land mark ruling with huge implications for Irish policy, the European Court of Justice has ruled that the non-EU parents of an EU citizen child must be allowed to live and work in that EU state. The ruling of the court came yesterday in response to a question on the interpretation of EU law from a Belgian tribunal and is binding on all member states making decisions in similar cases. It states that member states are required to allow third country nationals who are parents of an EU citizen child to live and work in the EU state, where a refusal to do so would deprive the child of the enjoyment of the rights of citizenship.

The European court case arose in relation to two Colombian nationals, Mr and Mrs Ruiz Zambrano, who were refused asylum in Belgium. While awaiting a decision on their application the wife gave birth to two children who acquired Belgian nationality.
Though he did not have a work permit, Mr Zambrano worked for a Belgian company, paying tax and social security. As a result, he was able to provide for his family.
However, he became unemployed and applied for unemployment benefits, which were refused because, according to the Belgian authorities, he did not comply with Belgian residence requirements and was not entitled to work there.
The couple applied for Belgian residency as the parents of Belgian citizens but their application was rejected. Mr Zambrano challenged this decision, claiming that as the parent of Belgian children he was entitled to live and work in Belgium.
The Brussels Employment Tribunal, to which the application was brought, asked the European Court of Justice whether he could rely on European Union law, even though in this case the children were not exercising their right of free movement within the EU.
The court ruled that, while a member state has sole jurisdiction to lay down the conditions for the acquisition of citizenship, it was undisputed that the children were of Belgian nationality. They therefore enjoyed the status of citizens of the EU.
It said that EU law precludes national measures which have the effect of depriving citizens of the union of the “genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights conferred by virtue of their status as citizens of the union”. The refusal to grant the parents the right of residency and a work permit amounted to such a deprivation.
The court said it must be assumed that the refusal of residence would lead to a situation where the children would have to leave the territory of the EU, and the refusal of a work permit would lead to a risk of the parents not being able to provide for their citizen children, again forcing them to leave the territory of the union.
In those circumstances, those children would be unable to exercise the substance of the rights conferred on them by virtue of their status as citizens, it said.
The court stated, therefore, that EU law precludes member states from refusing residency and a work permit to third country nationals upon whom minor children who are EU citizens are dependent.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has welcomed the ruling, saying Ireland’s practice of refusing to give some parents of Irish children permission to live and work in this country must now end. Its senior solicitor, Hilkka Becker, said those parents who had already been deported must be allowed to return.

The case now goes back to the Belgian tribunal for a decision on the specific merits of the case.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0309/1224291667585.html

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Carla McElwee – European Politics

I was listening to the Ray D’Arcy show this morning. He had Conor Pope on the show; he is a columnist from the Irish Times. He deals with consumer affairs. Every Monday Ray has a slot on the show which deals with consumer problems and Conor Pope is in Studio to give his valued opinion.
On today’s show they dealt with a listener who had written in to say how shocked he was when he received his Vodaphone bill of over 8,000 euro. It turned out that Vodaphone had made a mistake but said that he was being charged for data charges. They rectified the mistake on the bill but he was still left with a bill of over 700 euro for one month’s usage. The listener said his bill would never normally be this high and he is still reeling from the Bill. He was asking advice how to deal with this situation.
Conor Pope commented on how customers and companies who issue the bills are finding these issues very difficult to deal with. He also said it was good that the EU had made a ruling over roaming charges because in the past phone companies could charge what they wanted as there were no regulations.

Roaming regulation
More than 79% of the EU population owns a mobile phone. Many phone users use their phone less when abroad: mainly because of high roaming charges. This was effectively imposing an artificial economic border within Europe’s internal market and reduced the potential for service growth.
Initially the Commission sought a voluntary change in pricing from the industry.

With national regulators powerless to intervene in an issue with complex cross-border jurisdictions and the operators not responding voluntarily to lower charges, the Commission decided to act.

A few years ago when mobile phones became popular it was a clear winner to both consumers and business. When you could use your phone almost anywhere in the world it opened up the world of communications. To be able to keep in touch at any time and in any place produced a highly competitive market within Europe. The only problem was the high roaming charges as these were based on charges by individual companies. You never knew what your bill would be when you got home from your holiday. The EU had to act and introduce fixed roaming charges.

Enter Euro tariff
Since summer 2007, an EU Regulation has been in place to cap mobile roaming charges both at the wholesale (between operators) and the retail (consumer) level.
The Euro tariff caps set the ceiling for roaming charges and are set to be fair to both consumers and operators.
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm

It seems to be as technology gets more advanced the billing system becomes more complex. When the EU brought in regulations about roaming charges it was only call charges that could be capped. Text messaging and downloading were not affected. On this mornings show Conor also had a story about a woman who went on holidays and downloaded an episode of “Lost” on her mobile phone and received a bill for 48,000 euro for the privilege.

The EU brought in more regulations concerning roaming charges last July 2010.
“Latest News: Countering data roaming bill shocks
Customers roaming in another EU Member State no longer need to worry about accidentally running up huge bills when surfing the web using mobile networks via a mobile phone or computer when abroad in the EU. Thanks to the EU’s roaming rules, travelers’ data-roaming limit will be automatically set at €50 (unless they have chosen another limit – higher or lower.
As of 1 July 2010, the Roaming Regulation foresees the following:
 Operators will have to impose a monthly default cut-off for data roaming of €50.
 Operators are obliged to send users a warning whey they reach 80% of their data-roaming bill limit.
 Prices for mobile roaming calls will be reduced further with a maximum tariff of €0.39 per minute for calls made and €0.15 per minute for calls received.
 The maximum wholesale prices for data roaming fall from €1 to €0.80 per MB.
 Receiving a voice mail message while roaming will become free of charge.
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm
A survey done earlier this year shows that even though roaming charges have been reduced by EU regulations since 2007 many people are still very cautious about using their mobile phone abroad due to high charges. Hopefully the EU regulations will propose further rules this July as promised and reduce further the cost of phoning when abroad.

Almost three-quarters of Europeans are worried about the cost of using their mobile phone when traveling in the EU, according to a survey released on February 14 2011 by the European Commission.

Seventy-two per cent of travelers still limit their roaming calls because of high charges even though most are aware that prices have fallen since 2006.
http://sofiaecho.com
Conor mentioned on this mornings show that the EU is bringing in more regulations concerning roaming charges. Consumers will be delighted to hear this especially as billing when you were abroad was so ambiguous before the EU regulations in 2007. Due to downloading more regulations will be needed in the very near future.
The European Parliament has asked the Commission to report on the functioning of the new rules again by summer 2010. The Commission could then propose further rules, if required, by the end of June 2011.
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm

Carla McElwee MGH2

Lack of Women in Politics and how if effects policy making and legislation which affects women;

I met Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohue and I asked him if he thought that the lack of women in the Dail affected the policy making and legislation which affects women and children. I pointed out to him that in the recent General Election a few weeks ago only 15 % of the general election candidates were women and 25 of the 166 members of the 31st Dail are women. When Enda Kenny announced his new cabinet the out of the 15 ministries only 2 of these ministries were given to women.

“It is little consolation to campaigners on women’s issues that there was an increase of two in the number of women elected to Dail Eireann this time around.
REF; WithinIreland.com; Lessons from the election

He thought that the lack of women in the Dail definitely did not affect policy making and legislation which affects women. He pointed out that the Minister for “Health and Children” for the previous number of years was a woman, (Mary Harney) and the minister for Social Protection was a woman also.
The minister for health would be one of the top ministry positions and Mary Harney held that position from 2004 until she resigned from the post just before the general election in 2011.
Just 16 months after taking the position as Minister for Health there was a claim by the INO that a record 445 people were on trolleys waiting in Accident and Emergency.
Mary Hannifin held the position of Minister for Social Protection until 2010 and Joan Burton has held this position since the recent election in 2011.
Pascal Donohue also pointed out that the president of Ireland is a woman, and has been since the appointment of Mary Robinson in 1990 to 1997 and then the appointment of Mary McAleese in 1997 and again in 2004.

The lack of a high representation of women in Irish politics is thought to be having a detrimental effect on policy making and legislation which affects women. The amount of women in Irish politics has not increased dramatically over the last few years in fact it has actually decreased since the last general election. It is now believed that the lack of a high presence of women in Irish Politics is affecting changes in policy making and legislation with issues that are to do with family and children which primarily affect women.

“Though most in Ireland are now materially better off than 20 years ago, inequality has also been rising. Recent figures from the Central Statistics Office revealed a hidden gender dimension in this regard: the proportion of the Irish population at risk of poverty has declined, but the only people for whom it has increased are children and lone parents – the latter overwhelmingly women.
This article considers two interlinked reasons for why this is happening: low levels of women’s participation in government policy-making and legislation, and the consequent inadequacy of government responses to address the particular issues facing women in Ireland.”

Ref: //www.politeia.net 2008

A lot of people would argue the reason for the low number of women in the new Dail is because they weren’t voted in by the people. A huge factor has to be that there were only a few women candidates put up for election from each party. Only 15% of the overall candidates were women.

I asked him why he thought that there was such a low level of women in the new Dáil or even entering politics. He thought the reason for this is the same reason that there are very few women in the top jobs in Ireland or in the Board rooms. This is due to the fact that most women give up work or reduce their hours after they have a family and it is the man who usually works full time. Paschal told me that after him and his wife had their first child he wanted to take parental leave and let his wife have the career based job. He applied for parental leave from his job and he was refused.

He said that political parties have great difficulty trying to get women into their parties and run for election. He believes this is because it is difficult for woman to commit to a political career due to family commitments. It would be difficult for a woman with family commitments to come to Dublin to attend the Dail 3 days a week if they were elected, especially if they live down the country.

“Women have always been a minority in Irish electoral contests and subsequent sites of political representation.”

“However, women make up 51% of the Irish population and cross-cut all other groups, yet not even a third of candidates for any of the parties in the last general election were female.”

Ref: Politicalreform.ie

I asked him if he thought there should be quotas introduced. He felt even though he didn’t usual agree with quotas he felt they should be brought in for a period of time to get the ratio of women to men increased in the Dail.
He said in the past when they tried to get quotas brought in it was the women who opposed the move!

Many advocates of gender quotas believe that it will change the gender bias of political parties if the parties themselves are forced to have a quota of women as candidates or risk losing state funding in turn. Many of these advocates were aghast as many elected female representatives came out against gender quotas.”
REF; WithinIreland.com; Lessons from the election

I feel that Paschal opinions about whether the lack of women in the Dail affects policy making were very good. He seemed very adamant that the amount of women in political life should be increased and that bringing in the quota system even for a time would be beneficial. It will be interesting to see if the quota system is ever introduced.

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