FEMALE TDS GROPED IN THE DAIL
Explosive new book reveals abuse, bullying and assault in corridors of power
FEMALE ministers and TDS were groped and abused by male Dail colleagues, an explosive new book reveals.
The shocking incidents are detailed in Madam Politician penned by Martina Fitzgerald, RTE’S political
correspondent. She tells how sleazy public representatives felt female colleagues’ breasts in the corridors of power and elbowed them. Taoiseach Charlie Haughey even pulled the bra strap of a leading Senator. Gemma Hussey recalled: “I got a shock and I leapt to my feet.”
While there has been significant change... it’s unfinished business
MARTINA FITZGERALD ON SPEAKING TO POLITICIANS
FEMALE politicians have been groped, bullied and assaulted by male colleagues in the Dail.
The shocking incidents are revealed in an explosive new book by RTE’S political correspondent Martina Fitzgerald.
In Madam Politician, the author tells us about some of the awful behaviour of TDS and Senators.
It is a gripping account of the experiences of the 19 women who have made it to the Cabinet table in 100 years of Dail Eireann – along with our two female Presidents.
Men groped colleagues, felt their breasts, elbowed them in the corridors and one even caused a female TD’S head to bang against a wall during a row in the Dail chamber, almost cracking the glass of a hanging picture.
Many of the shocking incidents happened as recently as the 1990s.
The Sexism chapter tells about some appalling incidents, including one involving Minister Niamh Breathneach in the 1990s and another featuring Charlie Haughey pulling the bra strap of Gemma Hussey in the 80s.
One passage reads: “On one occasion during voting in the Dail chamber, a male politician, who she [Breathneach] describes as ‘quite drunk’, approached her to make a representation about a constituency matter.
“Breathneach, who was Minister for Education at the time, was unable to assist with the request.
“Her response was met with, ‘Listen here, you.’ She says the TD then started moving her with his arm and she banged her head against the wall. ‘There was a lovely Malton print behind me, and I did wonder did I crack the glass but evidently I didn’t.’
“She confided in a colleague about what had happened: ‘I was told, Look, forget about that, he won’t remember it in the morning.’ Decades later, she, however, has not forgotten it.”
The Haughey incident was similarly revolting. Ms Hussey was a member of Seanad Eireann when she had her unsettling experience. In the book she says: “I was sitting on the edge of the Dail chamber.
“There’s a circle that goes around above the chamber, where Senators sit to observe Dail debates.
“And I was sitting there observing a debate when I felt a chuck on my bra strap at the back. I got a shock and I leapt to my feet.” She turned around to find the newly-elected Taoiseach Charlie Haughey standing behind her. There are many more times in the book where women were elbowed in corridors, verbally abused and treated as second class citizens.
One of the most recent examples of disgraceful carry-on happened in 2013 in what has come to be known as Lapgate.
It was in the small hours of the morning when voting was still ongoing as the Government tried to get the Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Bill across the line. Tom Barry grabbed fellow Cork TD Aine Collins and pulled her on to his lap and started bouncing her. The bar was still open at the time. Ms Fitzgerald works at the coalface of politics in Leinster House every day.
Unfortunately her own experience indicates sexism is still alive and well in Irish politics.
She told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “The Women’s Caucus – made up of female politicians in Leinster House – was set up in 2017 in Leinster House. It has been
advocating for a confidential survey to find out how prevalent such issues are in national politics. A worthy endeavour and a timely one.
“So, while there has been significant change, the recent experiences of some of the women I spoke to suggests, it’s unfinished business.
“How many male politicians have ever had to worry about their appearance being dissected or being the subject of cruel commentary about their weight?
“The weight of one former minister was even the punchline in a pantomime. I don’t think that’s funny, nor it is acceptable.”
Madam Politician goes on sale this week priced €17.99.
STRAP GRAB Charlie Haughey
AUTHOR Martina Fitzgerald
ASSAULTED Gemma Hussey had bra strap pulled ATTACKED Niamh Breathneach APOLOGY Tom Barry and Aine Collins and, right, in bar M07 CAPTION WOB Ctrl semicolon
A DAB HAND Former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey