Dáil structure is very male, anti-family and anti-women, says Minister

Josepha Madigan said she spent ‘around five minutes’ with family during midterm

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan has said the pressures of political life meant she could only spend "around five minutes" with her family during the last midterm break.

Ms Madigan described the political system as “archaic” and said her job was a “sacrifice and a privilege”.

Speaking to The Irish Times ahead of International Women’s Day, Ms Madigan backed the introduction of gender quotas in local elections while also highlighting the toll a political career could have on family life.

“I certainly haven’t reached a balance yet, like we had the midterm break I think about two weeks ago and I have two boys, they are two teenage boys, but I saw them, I think, for five minutes for the entire week which really doesn’t hearten anybody trying to get involved in politics, particularly at a ministerial level. But I am doing it so that other women don’t have to do it.”


She said the structure of the Dáil is “very male” and is “anti-family” and “anti-women”.

On the issue of gender quotas, she said, “I do believe in gender quotas, I was on the general election ticket and I was a gender quota candidate, and I am the first gender quota Minister in cabinet. I have that illustrious title.”

It comes as the Cabinet held a special meeting on Friday morning dedicated to issues on gender equality.

After the meeting, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar indicated future changes to the local election quotas.

“The way political party funding is calculated requires that at least 30 per cent of your candidates going forward for a general election must be female, and if not you lose State funding,” Mr Varadkar said.

Ms Madigan has also called for an international bishop’s conference to address the issue of female participation in the priesthood.

She said the current status quo was “absolutely wrong” and said she had been approached by priests and nuns who are privately encouraging her to continue her campaign to include women in the clergy.

“I think Irish people are crying out for some spirituality and some guidance and a lot of women have left or moved away from the church.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times