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Labour Party Minister for Housing Jan O'Sullivan (file photo) Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
Roisin Shortall

Róisín Shortall resignation 'a wrong decision' - Jan O'Sullivan

The Minister of State also spoke about Minister Hogan’s Traveller letter controversy, why gender quotas are a positive thing, and why she’s not in politics for a career.

MINISTER OF STATE Jan O’Sullivan has said that Deputy Róisín Shortall should not have resigned, describing it as “a wrong decision on her part”.

Commenting on the strained relationship that existed between her party colleague and the Minister for Heath James Reilly, O’Sullivan said that she regretted that Shortall had “decided to leave”.

“She had the potential to achieve what she intended to achieve and it was very important, the whole implementation of the universal health plan at primary care level,” she said.

In a wide-ranging interview with, O’Sullivan elaborated on her relationship with Minister Phil Hogan, in whose department she is a minister of state. Describing it as a “good working relationship”, she said that “by and large, he’s been very supportive”.

Watch Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan speak about her relationship with Minister Hogan and her thoughts on that Traveller letter:

Gender quotas

As one of only four women at the Cabinet table – the others being Ministers Joan Burton, Frances FitzGerald, and Attorney General Máire Whelan SC – O’Sullivan said she believed in gender quotas, but only “as a temporary measure”.

Clarifying her position, she added:

When I say quotas, I don’t think anyone has to vote for women. They should have a choice. I think that it’s not until you get a good percentage of women in decision making positions, whether that’s in cabinet or at the head of banking or whatever… it’s not until you get to that point that you really have the balance of the female perspective, if you like, and the role models for young women.

Watch Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan on why gender quotas aren’t devaluing women:

Equality within the coalition

With having last week revealed that Labour had been caught on the back foot by the announcement of the date for the Meath East by-election, O’Sullivan was asked whether Labour felt like equals within the coalition.

“Obviously Fine Gael have more seats than we have so inevitably you have that two to one difference between the two parties, but in terms of the major decision making, we have our voice at the table,” she said.

There’s no point in saying we have equal numbers because we don’t have. That’s always going to be a factor, but I believe that the Labour party is making its voice heard.

She went on to say:

I think that certainly if Labour wasn’t in government, I don’t think that you would have succeeded in having the kinds of priorities that Labour has put in terms of protecting the people at the bottom, in terms of income, and ensuring that people at the top pay the maximum amount.

Hear more about whether Minister O’Sullivan believes that Labour have maintained their left-wing ideologies:

Read more from’s interview with Jan O’Sullivan here:

Junior minister says Ming’s behaviour is ‘despicable and hypocritical’ >

Minister for housing says ex-residents of Priory Hall are ‘in a dreadful situation’ >

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