Republican News · Thursday 27 April 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Addressing the gender imbalance

A Chairde,

The controversy surrounding the gender balance on the Ard Chomhairle is a reflection on society and the subliminal discrimination which still exists. Women republicans fared no better or worse than anywhere else. Those who rush to cite such notables as Countess Markievicz would do well to reflect that the Countess already had rights afforded by her position in society and therefore her position to the fore in the organisation owed more to her social position than to the enlightened attitude of her male peers.

Women in our society have been seen as wives and mothers. Women whose partners were jailed were expected to support them no matter what state the relationship was in prior to his imprisonment. This position, though understandable in the context of the time shored up notion that the woman's right to a separate identity, was not acceptable. In short, she was the extension of her husband's political views.

Equality or the lack of it is a perception. While governments can legislate, unless these perceptions are altered equality will exist in law but not in reality. Education can work but only if the behaviour supporting gender inequality is considered antisocial, i.e. The child being father to the man, it is the behaviour they see practised at home will ultimately decide whether they see a woman or man on a ballot paper or simply a candidate.

The ceding of rights to women as indeed to all sections of society perceived by some as subclasses will incur losses for some people. Men must accept less freedom so women are able to move into all spheres of society. The gender balance of banks and the civil service prove that legislation is not working. While traditional female jobs, such as nurses, are opening up to men, the situation is not working in reverse, especially at executive levels. Sinn Féin's attitude towards other minorities shows a commitment lacking in other parties, however addressing the gender balance in positions of power in Irish society will take much more than the efforts of one party.

Seamus Mac Aodhagan
County Dublin


Tackling the idle and corrupt

A Chairde,

``It is a system which in its least repulsive aspects compels thousands and tens of thousands to fret and toil, to live and die in hunger and rags and wretchedness in order that a few idle drones may revel in ease and luxury.''

This is a quote taken from the Irish People newspaper of 9 July 1864.

I was taken by this quote after the latest revelations from the Flood Tribunal about councillors in Dublin allegedly on the take in order to rezone land so as to make millions for the fat-cat business class. How apt this quote is today as it was then. The early 1980s were a time when unemployment was at an all-time high, workers were sustaining their bosses in luxury by receiving low wages, the economy was broke, and we were being told to tighten our belts.

While the focus of attention is now quite rightly on Dublin public representatives, questions have to be asked as to why local authorities countrywide still hold `in committee' or secret meetings. What is it they are refusing the public the right to know?

Questions, allegations and innuendo will always be rife until all bodies funded by taxpayers' (our) money are open, transparent, and accountable to us.

Joe Barrett
Portlaoise, County Laois.

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