The General Election takes place this Friday, and no clear winner has yet emerged throughout the mud-slinging campaign. We challenged five female candidates on the most important issues facing women in Ireland to help us decide on which way to vote. Their responses may just surprise you, says Sinead Ryan.
With more female candidates than ever standing for election this year, gender quotas, despite their mixed acceptance, are clearly having an impact. Political parties stand to lose hundreds of thousands of euro in funding if they don’t meet the 30 per cent requirement of females on each ticket. It has led to dissent among some more traditional politicians, who believe that talent is losing out in favour of political correctness, but we prefer to think of it in terms of the famous line: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels.”
We spoke with five female candidates likely to make an impact in General Election 2016 –Catherine Murphy, Jennifer Cuffe, Lucinda Creighton, Deirdre O’Donovan and Regina Doherty. We asked them about a range of topics, including the environment, jobs, housing, healthcare, childcare, the 8th Amendment, and who they see as the next Taoiseach. Here’s what Catherine Murphy TD had to say.
Catherine Murphy TD
Social Democrats, Kildare North
Catherine has been a full-time public representative since 1991, elected to the Dáil in 2005. She is the whip of the Dáil technical group.
“Trying to predict if growth will continue is crystal ball territory; by its very nature, capitalism is about peaks and troughs … All growth must be sustainable and job rich – it cannot be merely brass plate growth, which can give a false impression of how the economy is performing … that is why sustainability is key.”
“We have got to prioritise primary healthcare with an emphasis on prevention rather than cure. There are huge difficulties with how the HSE is organised; we need to restructure things in a way that puts greater emphasis on the front line. There must be far more strategic workforce planning to ensure that short-term reactions don’t end up costing us more in the long term, which is what has currently happened.”
“It is impossible to look past the Nordic models of childcare, where the emphasis is placed on giving every child the best possible start in life whilst also facilitating the whole family to make the choices that best suit their needs. Not only does this lead to better long-term educational outcomes for the children, but it ensures fathers have a much more active involvement in the early years of a child’s life whilst also empowering women to play a full part in the workforce if they so wish.”
“I absolutely favour repealing the 8th Amendment.”
“A week is an awful long time in politics. The people are sovereign and I am not going to second guess how they will cast their votes come polling day.”
This article was originally published in the February issue of IMAGE Magazine.