Michael Staines
Michael Staines

20.33 1 Dec 2020


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A Social Democrats TD has invited an Irish Greyhound Board member to a debate after he called her an “ignorant little girl.”

Speaking in the Dáil today, Cork South West TD Holly Cairns warned that “there can be no excuse for everyday sexism.”

She accused IGB board member Wayne McCarthy of resorting to personal insults instead of engaging with the animal welfare concerns she has raised about the greyhound industry.

Mr McCarthy has apologised for tweeting the insult, claiming that he let his frustration with Deputy Cairns’ campaign to defund the greyhound industry “boil over.”

Everyday sexism

This afternoon, Deputy Cairns said: “Women everywhere are experiencing the same kind of everyday sexism in different ways and we are tired of it.”

“As the only female TD in all of Cork City and County, I feel the need to address the sexism that we are all so used to,” she said.

“I needed to put it on the Dáil record that a board member of a State organisation, in 2020, spoke about an elected woman in that way.

“I feel the need to say there can be no excuse for this – because there is no excuse.”

Mr McCarthy’s Tweet was liked by Fine Gael TD Joe Carey, who has since offered his “sincere apologies” to Deputy Cairns.

“Since the Social Democrats’ motion last week to reverse the increase in funding for the commercial greyhound racing industry, I have heard very little legitimate defence of the sector from its proponents,” Deputy Cairns said in the Dáil.

“I have seen no serious effort to address the loss-making nature of the industry or animal welfare concerns - or even acknowledge them.

“What I have seen are attacks of a personal nature on those of us who do not want to see over €2m of an increase in funding for a sector who’s custom and practices have been so discredited.”

She said she was “not deeply hurt or offended” noting that her “initial reaction was to ignore it.”

“I instinctively felt it did not deserve any energy or thought,” she said.

“Indeed, I didn’t want to waste my speaking time addressing it today. But when a Fine Gael TD apologised for liking these sentiments, I couldn’t avoid the amount of calls I was getting from the media looking for a response.

“The unfortunate reality of this situation is: I was not deeply hurt or offended, because I am used to these kinds of gendered comments.

“I rightly do not take personal offence, but in reality, too many women are subject to too many comments which seek to demean and belittle. And this offends all women.”

Debate

She also hit out at Mr McCarthy’s claim that her remarks on greyhound racing were “waffle.”

“The opposite was the case,” she said. “They were all fact, based on research, much of which was done by the Irish Greyhound Board itself.

“He has not challenged any of those facts - he has only challenged my personality and pointed out my gender.

“So I would like to take this opportunity to invite that member of the board of IGB/GRI to take part in a debate about the facts that I have raised in relation to the greyhound racing industry; the viability of the industry; the animal welfare issues associated with the industry; and the public disquiet about the State funding this.”

Mr McCarthy said he had “Allowed my frustration with an inaccurate picture being portrayed of the greyhound industry to boil over reflecting my passion and interest in the greyhound industry.”

“The tweet contained comments which I now regret and I apologise for any offence caused to Holly Cairns T.D.”


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