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Friday, 19 September 2014

I still don't know where Una Mullally got that quote she based her opinion column re FF Gender Quotas on.

Rewrite of an email and post and tweets I made March 24th and 27th 2014.

Una Mullally opinion piece in the Irish Times Fianna Fáil’s renewal plans are for the birds only in one way. Original version as published March 27th 2014 follows.


Last July, Fianna Fáil announced its five-year Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP). I don’t know why its plans always have to be five years long. I’ll take it as a given that Fianna Fáil isn’t basing this time period on the theory of productive forces in Marxism, but you never know. After all, it’s a socialist party, lest we forget. Or at least one that appreciates socialising. Preferably in tents surrounded by horses.

Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up “up to one-third” of the party local election candidates. Fair play to whoever drafted the language of that plan for sneaking in the “up to”. Up to one-third could be 0.1 per cent – sure who’s counting?

The plan was the result of the Taskforce on Female Participation in Fianna Fáil, chaired by Senator Averil Power, who is the most intriguing thing to come out of the party since SSIAs. But Fianna Fáil is a lonely, lonely place for women.

Conspicuous absence
Of the party’s 20 TDs, “up to one-third” are women. And by up to one-third, I mean none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Of its 14 Senators, “up to one-third” are women. Well, two – Power and Mary White. Its three MEPs are men. Of Fianna Fáil’s 349 councillors around the country, 56 are women, “up to one-third” at 16 per cent. Fianna Fáil is fielding a whopping 420 candidates in the locals, but the party has admitted that “less than” 20 per cent of those running in the local and European elections will be women. “Less than” is the new “up to”.

There was more likelihood of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft turning up at the Fianna Fáil ardfheis in Killarney at the weekend than the party actually keeping the gender commitment it made last year. However, the party’s failure to even come close to its promise is a colossal embarrassment. And it probably indicates that Fianna Fáil’s so-called renewal will be closer to more of the same than any actual reform. Its aspirations are for the birds – but only the feathered kind.

When political parties do actually make a concerted effort to rustle up some women, give them support and encouragement, lo and behold, it works. Labour Women have nearly managed to hit their 30 per cent target two years ahead of schedule. 29.7 per cent of candidates in the locals will be women. That didn’t just happen. They worked at it.

I was speaking to a person involved in gender equality in politics a while ago, who said that no sooner do you suggest to a man that he should run than his face is staring down at you from a poster on a lamppost.

He practically has the rosette made before the conversation is over. But women need to be almost coerced into running. It is this confidence-building, encouragement, solidarity and support that is key to sustaining women’s involvement in politics while gender quotas light the fuse.

Meanwhile, over in the feminist bastion of Fine Gael, the party spent a whopping €417 on its women’s programme in 2012 and €164 in 2011. If that’s not commitment to equality in the Oireachtas, then I don’t know what is.

In the history of the State, there have been just two female ministers for justice out of the 35 who have held the position. There have been four female ministers for education in the history of our Oireachtas. There has never been a female minister for finance. There have been three female ministers for health. There has never been a female minister for foreign affairs. There has never been a female taoiseach.

When queried about this in this newspaper, Enda Kenny said, “I don’t particularly like gender quotas, but I do like to see more and more women involved in politics.” Sound the paradox klaxon.

Women should be absolutely raging about this. No wonder our interests aren’t prioritised at a legislative level when our political power is so diluted by middle-aged, middle-class, mediocre, male “leadership”.

Parallel universe
Those who oppose gender quotas exist in a parallel universe where the best person should always get the job, yada yada yada. It’s a universe that assumes “all things being equal”. But they’re not.

Come the local and European elections, we’ll have the option to vote for a vast array of men on any ballot paper around the country, from eejits to Machiavellian operators, to hereditary politicians (possibly an Irish genome malfunction), to good guys and smart fellas to nincompoops.

But the women on a ballot paper are nearly always exceptional. They’re exceptional for even getting there. Give us the right to vote for the same breadth of women as we can for men, and then let the best person get the job. No “less than”, no “up to”, just the best.

I generally don't read opinion columnist because they are just paid trolls whose articles are not fact checked but I was alerted to the possibility that Una Mullally's article was misrepresenting FF Gender Equality by the Village Magazine

after reading its mocking of the phrase "up-to" one third..., the famous phrase used when selling broadband of greatly varying speeds, which sounded curious I went and found the Fianna Fail Gender Equality Action Plan referred to in the piece and found no use of the phrase "up to one third", that Una Mullally repeats for effect through out the first page of piece and as the final words at the end.

FF Gender Equality Action Plan 2013 - 2018



Page 2
In 2004 the party agreed that 33% of our candidates in the 2014 Local Election would be women. We now have one year to make this happen.

Page 4 point 4
In order for the party to achieve its gender equality target for the next local elections, it is essential that at least 33% of our area representatives are female.

Page 30
Ensuring that at least 33% of our candidates in the 2014 local elections are female, asper the target set in the Gender Equality Action Plan 2004-2014 and


Neither the press release or the document use the phrase "up-to" in all places it says its target is atleast 33% female.

FF Plan To Boost Female Participation In Politics Posted on 30/07/13 by Averil Power
A target of women making up one-third of the party local election candidates

I even found an earlier dated version of the same document via the irishelectionliterature.com to make sure it hadn't been there at some stage and removed. I also checked the previous 'Gender Equality Action Plan 2004-2014' just in case. I even listened to the discussion Una Mullally had on Newstalk radio with former Fianna Fail politician Mary O'Rourke she refers to in her piece.

I'm not a fan of Fianna Fail, I do generally support gender quotas, I just think opinion pieces can and should be fact checked.

I tweeted at the extremely active on twitter @unamullally could get no response from her.

The women4election campaign tweeted



I thought they would be most interested in this having noted their campaigning and desire to use facts to do so.

So I emailed the Women for Election campaign and explained my inability to find the quote the article was based on, and hoped they would be listened to by Una Mullaly or the Irish Times.

That afternoon 3 days after it was published, the article was edited, which you can see if you hover your mouse over the date date dropdown, but no acknowledgement or explaination of mistake by Una Mullally or her editor, which is disappointing.

Thanks to @women4election if they had anything to do with correction of the record, we have all misread things, but it really needs a public explanation from author and Irish Times opinions editor.

The key quote she uses from the Gender Action plan, the whole premise of her article was erased stealthy without acknowledgement. One of the key problems with newspapers is they still don't consistently link to sources, she could have put the link to the report in her article and it would have helped her editor and anyone reading the piece to easily check for themselves.

Original
Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up “up to one-third” of the party local election candidates. Fair play to whoever drafted the language of that plan for sneaking in the “up to”. Up to one-third could be 0.1 per cent – sure who’s counting?

Revised
Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up at least 33% of the party local election candidates.

The revised article quoted below is a mess and just doesn't make any sense.

Last July, Fianna Fáil announced its five-year Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP). I don’t know why its plans always have to be five years long. I’ll take it as a given that Fianna Fáil isn’t basing this time period on the theory of productive forces in Marxism, but you never know. After all, it’s a socialist party, lest we forget. Or at least one that appreciates socialising. Preferably in tents surrounded by horses.

Recently, I had a very pleasant conversation on Newstalk with Mary O’Rourke about feminism. When it came to women in politics, O’Rourke said she didn’t agree with gender quotas. She is entitled to that opinion, but a gender quota is the very thing Fianna Fáil’s GEAP is trying to achieve: having women make up at least 33% of the party local election candidates.

The plan was the result of the Taskforce on Female Participation in Fianna Fáil, chaired by Senator Averil Power, who is the most intriguing thing to come out of the party since SSIAs. But Fianna Fáil is a lonely, lonely place for women.

Conspicuous absence
Of the party’s 20 TDs, “up to one-third” are women. And by up to one-third, I mean none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Of its 14 Senators, “up to one-third” are women. Well, two – Power and Mary White. Its three MEPs are men. Of Fianna Fáil’s 349 councillors around the country, 56 are women, “up to one-third” at 16 per cent. Fianna Fáil is fielding a whopping 420 candidates in the locals, but the party has admitted that “less than” 20 per cent of those running in the local and European elections will be women.

There was more likelihood of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft turning up at the Fianna Fáil ardfheis in Killarney at the weekend than the party actually keeping the gender commitment it made last year. However, the party’s failure to even come close to its promise is a colossal embarrassment. And it probably indicates that Fianna Fáil’s so-called renewal will be closer to more of the same than any actual reform. Its aspirations are for the birds – but only the feathered kind.

When political parties do actually make a concerted effort to rustle up some women, give them support and encouragement, lo and behold, it works. Labour Women have nearly managed to hit their 30 per cent target two years ahead of schedule. 29.7 per cent of candidates in the locals will be women. That didn’t just happen. They worked at it.

I was speaking to a person involved in gender equality in politics a while ago, who said that no sooner do you suggest to a man that he should run than his face is staring down at you from a poster on a lamppost.

He practically has the rosette made before the conversation is over. But women need to be almost coerced into running. It is this confidence-building, encouragement, solidarity and support that is key to sustaining women’s involvement in politics while gender quotas light the fuse.

Meanwhile, over in the feminist bastion of Fine Gael, the party spent a whopping €417 on its women’s programme in 2012 and €164 in 2011. If that’s not commitment to equality in the Oireachtas, then I don’t know what is.

In the history of the State, there have been just two female ministers for justice out of the 35 who have held the position. There have been four female ministers for education in the history of our Oireachtas. There has never been a female minister for finance. There have been three female ministers for health. There has never been a female minister for foreign affairs. There has never been a female taoiseach.

When queried about this in this newspaper, Enda Kenny said, “I don’t particularly like gender quotas, but I do like to see more and more women involved in politics.” Sound the paradox klaxon.

Women should be absolutely raging about this. No wonder our interests aren’t prioritised at a legislative level when our political power is so diluted by middle-aged, middle-class, mediocre, male “leadership”.

Parallel universe
Those who oppose gender quotas exist in a parallel universe where the best person should always get the job, yada yada yada. It’s a universe that assumes “all things being equal”. But they’re not.

Come the local and European elections, we’ll have the option to vote for a vast array of men on any ballot paper around the country, from eejits to Machiavellian operators, to hereditary politicians (possibly an Irish genome malfunction), to good guys and smart fellas to nincompoops.

But the women on a ballot paper are nearly always exceptional. They’re exceptional for even getting there. Give us the right to vote for the same breadth of women as we can for men, and then let the best person get the job. No “less than”, no “up to”, just the best.


I had to use the internet archive to see the previous version

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