TD Murphy O’Mahony: I never saw bullying in Dáil

TD Murphy O’Mahony: I never saw bullying in Dáil
Margaret Murphy O'Mahony: Never experienced 'any form of bullying'

CORK'S only female TD has said she has never witnessed bullying or harassment in the Dáil.

Margaret Murphy O’Mahony made the comments as an Oireachtas lobby group calls for a survey to be carried out amongst staff to find out if there is a culture of bullying or harassment in Irish politics.

The Oireachtas Women's Caucus, formed last year, is a group made up of women politicians from a number of parties, focused on women’s representation in politics and areas of concern for women.

A steering group within the caucus has been looking at the possibility of carrying out an audit of work and culture in Irish politics. They are set to call for a survey of everyone, male and female, working in Leinster House. This is to include background and administrative staff, as well as TDs and senators.

A similar survey carried out in Britain earlier this month found that almost one in five people working at Westminster experienced or witnessed inappropriate behaviour or sexual harassment in the previous 12 months alone.

Ms Murphy O’Mahony has been a member of the Dáil since 2015, representing Cork South-West for Fianna Fáil, and said she has never seen anything to indicate a similar culture in Irish politics.

“I am there two years and I have never experienced any form of bullying,” she said.

She is currently the only woman TD in the county but said she has never been alienated or treated differently as a result: “As the only Cork woman, it is a big honour but it is also unusual that there is no other female Oireachtas member in the whole of Cork city or county. 

“But hand on my heart, I have never experienced any form of bullying at all.” 

Nor has she seen anyone else being harassed and says she sees no signs of intimidation.

“Obviously you would have disagreements with someone, you may not agree with their point, but it is all verbal and it is all very respectful,” she said. 

“Both within the party and without it is all above board.” 

Last week Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone made an allegation of bullying against a party colleague. Ms Noone, who chaired the Oireachtas committee which examined the Eighth Amendment, made the allegation at a private meeting of party TDs and senators in Leinster House. Ms Noone said another party member had behaved in a sexist manner and said the bullying had intensified since her role on the Oireachtas committee.

There have previously been allegations made of bullying in Sinn Féin in a number of constituencies around the country, including in Cork.

But Ms Murphy O’Mahony says she has not seen any similar issues in Fianna Fáil.

“Not at all,” she said. “Certainly I have never experienced anything. I have been going to Fianna Fáil meetings for years and have never come across it.”

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