Bacik calls on government to nominate a woman to the EU Commission

2 September 2020

Ivana Bacik

Speaking today in response to reports that the Government is considering either the nomination of one man or of two candidates (one man and one woman) to the EU Commission position vacated by Phil Hogan, Senator Bacik proposed Taoiseach Micheal Martin take a positive stand for women’s rights and just nominate one woman candidate for the role.

Senator Bacik said:

“Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has made clear her wish to see gender balance at EU Commissioner level. Last year she asked each member state government to put forward a gender balanced ticket of candidates, but Ireland chose to ignore this request in just putting forward Phil Hogan.

“It is extraordinary that in recent days, government sources have again indicated reluctance to comply with the same request. Just yesterday Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant said very clearly ‘The matter of gender balance is very important to President von der Leyen, we have been saying this and she has been saying this very clearly and very loudly since she took office.. and that continues being a matter that she pursues with determination.’

“The message from the Commission couldn’t be clearer. Yet it seems the FF/FG/Green government is actually planning to defy this straightforward request. Despite the availability of meritorious potential women candidates, the government appears unwilling to nominate a woman for the Commission on a two-candidate ticket, apparently for fear that a man might lose face - by losing out to a woman.

“The obvious way to address this unwarranted fear is for the Taoiseach to take the bold step of nominating a single woman candidate. In doing so, he would also be striking a blow against the ‘old boys’ culture’ which has persisted for far too long in Irish politics.

“In the 2020 General Election, only 36 women were elected out of 160 TDs - 22.5%. Ireland is currently ranked abysmally low at 88th in the world tables for women’s representation in parliament (www.ipu.org, 31.7.2020). By contrast, the European average figure for women is 30 per cent and in Nordic countries, it is 41 per cent. At EU level, there are 12 women out of 27 Commissioners – an historically high figure of over 40%, a direct result of Commissioner Von der Leyen’s stated commitment to gender equality. It’s time our Taoiseach and our government made a similar positive commitment.”