Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 8 May 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security: Discussion
I welcome the delegation and I am delighted the witnesses have come before the committee because they certainly have played a huge role over the years on various issues. I was on a health committee with Ms McManus in 2002 and she was very insightful with regard to the issues. It is great to see her here today.
Many issues arise with regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325. As we have seen with the Good Friday Agreement, a reporting mechanism is required. Sometimes we launch reports and forget, so we need timescales and timelines. As with the Good Friday Agreement and other issues, the committees must be part of the plan. The witnesses want to make a contribution and the committee will certainly support their inclusion in the deliberations.
Women are very much involved in peace building and mediation activities, and Deputy Jack Wall alluded to the huge clamour to get more women involved in local and national politics. I approached at least five or six women, who would have got a seat, to run in the local elections in my area but they asked me why. Women are much smarter than men. In the current climate politics is going to the lowest common denominator. We have Facebook, Twitter and local media. Politicians do not want preferential treatment, but the profession is being dragged down. Why would anybody with ability who wants to offer something get involved when one's character is immediately taken away from one? Someone stated 90% of murders are committed by males and all wars are started by males. If such a climate exists in politics only alpha males will get involved. A very good friend of mine who was a Deputy took his own life a year ago under horrific circumstances. Everyone is clamouring to get more women involved, which is absolutely fantastic and I support it. Fine Gael and all of the other parties could do more but we have done a lot. However, we may be missing the boat because if politics is so debased that one's character will be taken away from one, as women are much smarter than men, why would they get involved? We need to address this issue.
With Facebook and Twitter, politicians have 20,000 supporters and it is like having a private army. If I use Twitter to make a statement on behalf of the Government, I will be attacked. This means one does not participate. It is the same with reporters. Reporters state something about a certain politician and they are attacked. The only people who will stand up and be counted in such a herd mentality are the alpha males with the X factor. Those working behind the scenes will decide they do not need it. Unless this is debated we will not have more women in politics because why would they get involved? I approached at least ten women in my county of Roscommon about going on the ticket and they refused, including one woman who had been involved for ten years. We need to address these issues.
Deputy Crowe alluded to the 284 young schoolgirls kidnapped in the north east of Nigeria, and I would like to hear the witnesses' comments on this. This horrific issue is ongoing. What can we do about it? Perhaps this committee does not have a role in it. How do the witnesses think we can mobilise to stop this? Many such incidences happen throughout the world, of which we are not aware but of which the witnesses are. How can these be highlighted? We need to do more as legislators, as politicians and as members of the international community to address this.
I am delighted the witnesses have come before the committee. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 is not something with which we are as familiar as we should be, but the witnesses coming before the committee will change this. We can work together on this. We have gone to Northern Ireland and throughout the country and we try to engage. We need the witnesses' views in this engagement. I look forward to their participation in Northern Ireland, throughout the island of Ireland and wherever.