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Joan slams critics of her hands and says she's not 'Downton Abbey and teacups'

The Tánaiste suggested that sexism lays behind criticism of her body language in Monday’s debate.

JOAN BURTON HAS hit back at critics of her body language in Monday’s leaders’ debate, suggesting that comments about the use of her hands are sexist.

The Tánaiste was responding to the suggestion by a questioner at today’s press conference that her stridency and “excessive use of her hands” in the RTÉ TV debate had endangered many of her Labour colleagues’ seats and her own.

joan hands

But Burton said that female politicians are scrutinised to “an extraordinarily detailed degree” and hinted that sexism was behind the criticism.

“People would say that to a woman who’s running for very senior office. Lots of male colleagues have peculiarities, foibles, mannerisms that not everybody cares for.

But, clearly, when women are involved in politics they’re properly scrutinised to an extraordinarily detailed degree.

“Yes, I feel passionate about politics, I don’t regard that as a fault. I regard that as what drives my concern to make people’s lives better.

17/02/2016. (L to R) Minister of State at Departme Joan Burton makes light of using her hands at today's press conference in Dublin Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

“Other people may feel there’s something inappropriate in a woman not standing back and sitting down and doing a little bit of Downton Abbey and the tea cups. That’s not me.

“I feel very very passionate about this country, about the potential for its future, about our young people.

“So I apologise if I didn’t meet the standards of everybody, but I am very confident as well that our Labour TDs and our candidates are actually going to surprise on the day and do very well.”

The Dublin West TD was speaking at the launch of Labour plans for the arts sector at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin’s Temple Bar this morning.

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Among the commitments the party is making is to invest €150 million into Irish culture and the arts over the next five years and set up a capital arts fund to upgrade cultural spaces.

Labour in government would double the budgets of the Arts Council and the Irish Film Board and maintain the artists’ tax exemption.

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