Maternity Leave for Women Parliamentarians: Issues and Proposals

article-1314283-0B4D596E000005DC-686_634x373By Claire McGing, NUI Maynooth

Parliaments, of which the Dáil and Seanad are no exception, are highly gendered institutions. Since the rules were written by men at a time in which women were not expected to participate in politics, the very norms, rules and culture of parliament conform to a male lifestyle. This is why the idea of maternity leave in politics is a problematic, at times controversial, one – lengthy periods away from office for child-bearing don’t ‘fit’ with institutional notions of representative democracy as politicians weren’t really meant to get pregnant in the first place. But, if the will is there, parliaments can be reconceptualised and reformed to catch up with the gendered realities of modern society.

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The Need to Change Our Political Culture is Paramount

Pat Leahy (posted by David Farrell, October 28, 2011)

Here is the text of Sunday Business Post’s Pat Leahy’s remarks to the 2011 Kenmare Economics conference

The Irish economic crash has been turbo charged by a profound failure of our politics and our political system to comprehend the economic realities of the world, to be self-aware, to regulate its own desires and ultimately to practise good government

Moreover these failures are represented at every level of the political system, from government ministers to TDs, to the political and wider media that regulate and conduct our national debate, to local authorities to individual voters. They also, I am afraid, extend to economists.

These failures happened not just because of a series of bad policy decisions, but because of something much deeper than that: because they reflect our political culture. Continue reading

How can we stop our politicians kissing chickens?

David Farrell (February 20, 2011)

Early in the campaign I happened on a radio story in which the intrepid reporter was following a sitting TD on his election canvass. Everywhere the politician went he met with a positive reaction from his constituents. The basis of the whole story was that this was a politician in tune with his electorate, a popular constituency worker. As I switched off he was visiting a farm and kissing a chicken. No, this is not a typo; it wasn’t the proverbial child being kissed – the candidate kissed a chicken. Continue reading