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Posts Tagged ‘ Seanad ’

Support For Abolition Of Seanad Drops

 

The latest Red C poll shows that support for abolishing the Seanad has dropped by 3 percent. The poll was carried out between Monday and Wednesday of this week, on 1,002 randomly chosen adults, via phone calls.

49 percent of voters said they would support scrapping the Seanad, which is 3 percent less than the previous poll results. The number of people who voted to keep the Seanad has risen by 2 percent, to a total of 36 percent. Roughly 15 percent say they remain undecided. Continue reading

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News in Brief-Silly Season Arrives As Fannygate Erupts

norrisWhat a week full of exciting, exhilarating and other ex- words news. Oh no it wasn’t, NIB was lying.

What has happened this week?

David Norris has won the inaugural NIB award for best quote of the year. The “controversial” senator accused Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty of ’talking through her fanny’ in relation to her comments of the abolition of the Seanad. Amazing. Continue reading

News in Brief-Enda Dons Clown Pants As Author Rips Bono

endaSomeone’s been sending dirty nappies to Leinster House. It’s unclear to what this dirty protest relates or if it is the work of a group or individual. A Leinster House source commented: “We’re not too bothered by it.”

That is literally the end of that story. Continue reading

Senator Calls for Tax on Smartphones

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Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone has called on the Irish government to implement a new tax on smartphones, one which would apparently function as an additional levy alongside VAT.

“The issue of suicide and suicide prevention is again under the spotlight in recent days, thanks in no small part to the inspirational message of Kerry teenager Donal Walsh,” she said as reported in thejournal.ie. “While government funding for suicide prevention has actually increased this year, I think we need to be looking at new ways in which to fund suicide prevention measures. Placing a small levy on the sale of smartphones could be a very simple way to generate extra revenues for this crucial area.”

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Callely To Stand Trial

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Former junior minister and Fianna Fáil TD Ivor Callely is to stand trial over a number of allegedly bogus mobile phone expenses claims made during his time spent in the Seanad between 2007 and 2011.

Detectives from the fraud squad arrested the former politician at his home in Howth at 9.50 am this morning. He was subsequently taken to Clontarf Garda station. Callely was charged with six counts of using fraudulent instruments under Section 26 of the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Act. He has been granted bail in his own bond of €250.

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Crippled Irish Political System Requires Total Revamp

eire“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner,”

-James Bovard, Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty.

It has been stated and stressed many times over the course of the past few years, in various ways and with various examples to illustrate the point: Ireland’s political system is a frustrating failure. Our politicians are almost universally reviled as people who will say anything to get elected, promptly forgetting about such promises when the votes are tallied and their place in government has been cemented for another few years. If the people are accused of apathy then it’s hard to blame them. At this stage the whole process is a farce, a joke, to the point where much of the electorate feels alienated and simply doesn’t bother joining in anymore. Why, they ask, when elections feel like a sham – merely replacing the people sitting in Dáil Éireann rather than the policies they enact. How many thought they were getting away from cronyism and the political policies saddling the majority with the mistakes of the minority when Fine Gael was last elected to government? And how many simply sighed when they finally realised it was really Fianna Fáil in a different guise sitting in Leinster House spinning the same tired old yarn? Continue reading

New Gender Quotas May Do More Harm Than Good

Earlier last month, Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave his opinion that the political system in Ireland was a failure, in relation to getting more women involved in elected office. Kenny was speaking on the subject of the introduction of gender quotas for the next general election, saying that greater participation by women in political life would lead to “better politics.”

The legislation has gone before the Seanad on Thursday last, where it was described as “real change,” and “real reform.” The new measures introduced in this legislation will mean that all Irish political parties will have to ensure that at least thirty per cent of candidates fielded are female, or face their state funding cut in half. The figures the legislation attempts to correct are indeed revelatory about the issue of gender in Irish politics today. In the global league of female participation in politics, Ireland’s ranking has fallen from 37th to 79th since 1990. At present there is only one female TD for every six male elected. Even more surprising is that three counties – Cavan, Louth and Laois – have never seen a female TD elected to the Dáil since 1922. Women’s groups are thus welcoming the new measures.

“This legislation will address the gender imbalance which has been so persistent in Irish politics,” said the Chair of Labour Women, Katherine Dunne.

These new quotas, however, may do more harm to Irish politics and women’s position in it than good. Firstly, ‘token’ women could be put forward in areas where they have no chance of winning, although by their participation, the party will have followed the rules of the legislation and kept their state funding. Will these partie’s priority be ensuring that female candidates are well represented or will it be simply putting forward enough to secure the cash? The latter, it would seem, will be far more likely. Secondly, this legislation brings forth the issue of affirmative action or positive discrimination. Certainly, Irish politics would indeed benefit from a greater number of female representatives. However, if discrimination is decidedly negative when being visited upon women, why should the reverse be any more acceptable? Thirdly, those candidates being put forward should simply be the best of those who can win in their constituency, those most talented and capable at what they do, regardless of their gender. Is it fair that a competent and capable male candidate is overlooked and removed, simply because the space is needed for a woman? And what if the female candidate vying for the same position is less qualified and capable than her male counterpart? Should she be given the candidacy simply to fill a quota so her party doesn’t lose state funding, simply on the basis of forced equality? Imagine the same situation in a hospital. A space is open for a surgeon with a man and a woman going for the same job. The man has far more surgical experience than his female counterpart, but loses out on the position, due to hospital gender quotas. Who would you prefer to be undertaking your complicated operation? Does gender come into the equation? No, rather skill and experience. This, of course, isn’t to say that all women are under qualified when compared with their male counterparts, the opposite is quite often the case. If the reverse was the situation, then the female applicant should be the one considered, regardless of gender, and that should be the same regarding those who run our country. Those who are standing for election should be the best of everyone available, and not just the best of a particular sex.

Labour Party TD, Joanna Truffy, has described the quotas as a blunt instrument. This indeed is true, as the issues preventing female participation in politics are far broader than the legislation would suggest. A report published by the Oireachtas in 2009 highlighted four other main areas of concern which were preventing women from getting involved in politics – childcare, cash, confidence and culture. Women have long been seen as either mothers or professionals, a combination of the two seems anathema. Though a Dáil crèche is available, the structure of its sitting times has not been changed to accommodate such needs. In addition, monetary concerns also have their impact; the report found that women, on average, earn 22 per cent less than their male counterparts. Female election campaigns may then be impaired as the candidate may not be in receipt of an independent income, or may be responsible for housekeeping or other family related needs a man may not necessarily have. Professor Yvonne Gilligan also touched upon the daunting theatre of politics and how women may lack the confidence needed to succeed in this world. Irish politics has long been dominated by men, women may be “less connected with politics than men in the first place…do not feel comfortable taking part in the power struggles that constitute political life.” And finally, linked to the previous point, the report highlighted the male dominated culture of Irish politics. Considering that all main parties in the country are led by men, the culture and norms are therefore dominated by them and their line of thinking. One issue specifically raised was that of political meetings being held in pubs, perhaps an arena not overly suitable for women with children, or a place where they may not feel completely comfortable.

And despite this report being over two years old, the powers that be seem to be focusing on the final part of its investigation; how to address the gender imbalance in politics today. Assuming that the public do vote for those women put forward by parties unwilling to lose their funding, something which is highly unlikely to change attitudes towards women in politics, then the gender imbalance will most certainly be addressed, possibly at the expense of the quality of the representatives in Dáil Éireann. A failure to address the other issues outlined in the report will simply ensure that while the numbers of female representatives may change, our provisions, perception and culture certainly will not.

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