Tuffy to boycott first women-only meeting for TDs

 

LABOUR TD Joanna Tuffy is boycotting a meeting of women TDs and Senators tonight being facilitated by Fine Gael’s Mary Mitchell-O’Connor on the grounds that men are not invited.

The first meeting of the group will feature presentations from advocacy groups that campaign for gender equality in Irish politics, from Women for Election and 50:50, as well as from women academics who specialise in the area.

Ms Tuffy said she was not interested in attending any meeting to which only women Oireachtas members were invited.

“I think that there would be heavy criticism of a meeting to which only men Oireachtas members were invited. I see myself as a representative of the people and part of the mainstream, working with my fellow men and women on issues that affect the people,” Ms Tuffy said. “I think such a meeting is about segregation of public representatives on the basis of the gender and that that is a backward move, whatever the issue to be discussed.”

Ms Mitchell-O’Connor, who said she was a “facilitator” rather than an organiser of the new group, stressed the social aspect of the gathering and said there should be no problem with the fact it was a women-only event.

“It’s a women’s meeting and we are getting to know each other. Our agenda is to try and improve women’s representation in the Oireachtas – the Dáil and the Seanad – and to increase women’s representation in local elections,” she said.

A total of 25 women TDs were elected in the general election in February.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said political parties will have to implement a 30 per cent gender quota for general election candidates or else face severe financial penalties.

He has proposed that State funding for parties will be cut by half unless at least 30 per cent of the candidates they put forward are women.