Women councillors 'talked over' in council chamber

Women councillors 'talked over' in council chamber
Picture Rory Coomey.

SOME of Cork’s female city councillors have claimed they are not being listened to in the council chamber.

They have claimed that when a woman gets up to bring forward a motion or to make a statement, there is a “murmuring and grumbling” among other councillors.

However, others have said this merely reflects the nature of the council, but this “adversarial” attitude should change.

Sinn Féin councillor Fiona Kerins says that she hears the murmuring from other councillors when women get up to speak.

Cllr Fiona Kerins. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Cllr Fiona Kerins. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Ms Kerins added the issue has been ongoing, and has been discussed between meetings.

“You wouldn’t get away with it in any other workplace. It’s just rudeness; a lack of manners. And it happens across parties,” Ms Kerins said.

Solidarity representative Fiona Ryan said she notices some councillors talking amongst themselves when she gets up to speak during council meetings. She says it happens to other women, too.

“Anyone who has been to a council meeting can hear when the murmurs start, and they continue. Maybe it’s a dismissal, because of my youth. I think it is nearly a subconscious sexism. They are not taking me seriously,” Ms Ryan said.

The Green Party’s Lorna Bogue said she raised this issue at a talk she gave in UCC, in December, about women in politics. “I don’t get it as badly as some other female councillors. There is a murmuring among the older male members of the council, when one of us gets up to speak. Sometimes, there is guffawing,” Ms Bogue said.

“I would say the Lord Mayor is very on top of the issue. He does make sure the council runs smoothly.”

Cork City’s Lord Mayor, Cllr John Sheehan, did not comment on the specifics of the city council, but did say there is a “macho culture” in Irish politics in general.

“We... need more female councillors, because they are not as into shouting, they are more collaborative, and more willing to work in conjunction with others.”

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