Leinster House / the Dail

One in three female TDs have been sexually harassed - report reveals


MORE than a third of all female TDs have been sexually harassed, according to a new survey.

At least 12 of the 34 women currently serving in the Dáil admitted that they had been victims of sexual harassment at some point in their lives, either while at college, in their political activism or while working in government.

The Irish Examiner carried out the anonymous survey in the wake of Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin's revelations about the campaign of harassment she suffered while working at UCD.

A number of questions were reportedly sent to each of the 34 female TDs, with 25 of them responding.

Results of the survey also showed that 17 of them had been on the receiving end of a sexist insult or remark from a man to their face at some point during their career in politics.

17 of them also admitted to receiving online sexual insults or harassment via social media while working in government.

One of the TDs said she wasn't surprised by the figures: "I have noticed a change around the Oireachtas in recent years but I don't know if it's because I'm stronger and don't put up with it, or the men around me are different.

"I'm often passed over for questions in committees or told what questions I should ask. I don't even notice it anymore.

"I don't think I'll ever tell my story about what happened to me because then you become a victim. It gets used against you and you're seen as weak."

In 2019, it was reported that Ireland had the highest level of claimed sexual harassment in Europe - among the worst in the world.

Social Democrat TD for West Cork Holly Cairns says she was at "the end of her tether" with sexist remarks by the time February's general election campaign had ended.

"I'm not at all surprised by the figures, it's awful regardless of it not being surprising," she said.

"The week after I was elected, I was talking to someone and she asked me my name before saying: 'Look being a politician's wife is no life for you'.

"I'm a politician. What would I have to do to be considered a politician? Get elected to the county council or the Oireachtas for instance? The way society views women in politics is problematic.

"It's an ingrained cultural and societal problem, but we can work on this," she added.