Ministerial gender imbalance?


Sir, – In your editorial of July 3rd, you note that four of the 15 Cabinet ministers and five of the 20 Ministers of State are women. You opine that this is not nearly good enough and reflects badly on all three Coalition parties. I’m not so sure.

Women account for less than 23 per cent of the TDs elected and have been appointed to 26 per cent of the available positions. Nothing to see here, one might think. Even more striking is the fact that the three Coalition parties have between them a total of 13 TDs who are women. So 13 women were available for appointment to high office and eight of the 13, plus Senator Pippa Hackett, got the nod. Among the eight is a first-time TD who was made a senior Minister.

The assertion that the appointment of nine female ministers when the coalition parties have 13 female TDs “is not nearly good enough” is close to suggesting that all available women should be appointed to high office and that men should divvy up what’s left. That might not be a bad idea but I suspect that The Irish Times will acknowledge that the party leaders should have some regard to ability, wherever it is found, in making appointments.

Of course the real issue here is that women are substantially under-represented in the Dáil, and that should be addressed. Our two female presidents have been among our very best. We have had some superb female senior ministers over the years.

The leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens might reasonably be challenged with not doing enough to facilitate the election of more women to the Dáil. But, once the people had their say in February’s election, it’s hard to see what more the leaders could reasonably have done for gender balance in making their nominations for appointment to ministerial office. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.