Cork County Council has been branded a 'boys club' 

Cork County Council has been branded a 'boys club' 
Holly Cairns Picture: Andy Gibson.

COUNTY Hall has been branded a “bit of a boys club” by Social Democrat Holly Cairns who has spoken out about the fact there are no female chairs of the Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) groups.

The important policy groups advise and assist the council in the formulation, development and review of policy.

There is a financial reward for chairing the strategic policy committees, amounting to almost €6k per year.

Ms Cairns said the lack of female chairpersons in the council needed to be addressed. 

"I think it is important to have a balance, nothing too radical... It is a bit of a boys club at the moment."

Ms Cairns detailed recent struggles to secure chairperson positions for two other council committees. 

On the Coastal Management Committee, a male councillor put himself forward, after lobbying some of the female for support. 

Holly CairnsPic Darragh Kane
Holly CairnsPic Darragh Kane

In the meeting itself, Ms Cairns urged female colleagues to compete for the position. 

Independent Councillor Marcia Dalton, who is a qualified engineer and who previously worked as an environmental consultant, ultimately secured the seat after a battle for votes. 

Fine Gael Councillor Susan McCarthy was the first female to become a committee chair in the current council term, using in her own words, “luck, guts and balls” to wangle her way into a top seat.

Speaking about the male dominance of County Hall, Ms McCarthy said women were finally breaking the mould at County Hall.

“We are making progress, but it is very slow. It is taking the time,” Ms McCarthy said.

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