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Committee on Public Petitions debate -
Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Business of Joint Committee

The next item on the agenda is any other business. Do members wish to make any final comments?

I discussed this matter at our previous private meeting. I think we are all very aware that we have really bad gender balance on this committee, which has no female member. I know it is something in respect of which we have a common goal and want to rectify. If we are serious about gender balance, we need to ensure there is some percentage of females on the committee. I speak for everybody and I know the Chairman is aware of it. It is something this committee must address. If it came to it, I would be more than prepared to step aside for somebody from my own party to come forward, even though I love this committee. However, we might not have to do that. We need to address the lack of gender balance on this committee. We cannot stand up the Seanad, Dáil or committees and talk about gender balance and have committees that do not have any female representation.

I agree with the Senator. I raised and will raise again the issue with my party. I ask the three major parties to bring it up. It will be hard for Independents to solve the issue of gender balance but perhaps the three parties could do something. The fact that the committee is all male is something that crossed my mind on several occasions. It looks bad so I ask members from the various parties to raise it with their own parliamentary parties to see if something can be done to address that situation.

I echo the Chairman's sentiments and those of the last speaker. I also echo the Chairman's remarks about the Ombudsman. The information was excellent. We need to engage like this. As I said a long time ago when I sat on the last committee, this is a very important committee. I thank the secretariat because it does a lot of work behind the scenes.

I echo Deputy Buckley's comments about the secretariat. It has been a massive help to me as Chairman and the committee so I say "well done" to it.

The joint committee adjourned at 1.58 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 25 May 2021.