Fianna Fáil Vice President Lisa Chambers has condemned the actions of Fine Gael Deputy Tom Barry in the Dáil overnight and the party’s attempts to downplay the incident earlier today.
“Like many people I was shocked and appalled to see these scenes on the floor of our national Parliament. The fact that this happened during a debate on an extremely serious issue affecting women emphasises the inappropriateness of it,” Ms Chambers said.
“The initial behaviour was bad enough, but what message does it then send when the senior party in government attempts to dismiss such behaviour as ‘horseplay’ and gives excuses about tiredness and lack of heating? While I acknowledge and welcome Deputy Barry’s apology, unfortunately for many people, especially younger women, his behaviour and his party’s initial reaction to it will only confirm a negative view of political life.
“Casual sexism in the workplace is something that too many women have to deal with on a regular basis. When inappropriate behaviour like this is taking place on the floor of the Dáil and being laughed off as ‘horseplay’, it does nothing to help those who are trying to promote respect for women.
“Rather than setting an example for other workplaces, the Dáil has once again proven itself to be way behind the rest of the country when it comes to gender equality.
“Voters have a right to expect professional and respectful behaviour from our legislators, particularly while debating on such serious and highly sensitive issues. I believe this incident has undermined the work of the Dáil both at home and abroad.”