Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now

Seanad briefly suspended over 'misogyny' row

Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford-Lee clashed with Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer.

Lorraine Clifford Lee
Lorraine Clifford Lee
Image: Sam Boal/

THE SEANAD WAS briefly suspended today after a row over a comment made by Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer.

During a debate in the upper house this afternoon, attention turned to the subject of ‘spin units’ for political parties.

Buttimer said: “On the subject of spin units, the Fianna Fáil party, which was in government for a while, had a particular unit.”

Independent Senator David Norris then interjected: “They had a one-man spin unit, namely PJ O’Mara (a political adviser to former Taoiseach Charles Haughey).”

To which Buttimer replied: “They had a couple, actually.”

Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee then said: “You guys had an awful lot more spin doctors than we ever had.”

“I know Senator Clifford-Lee is trying to assert herself here but it is important to listen as well,” Buttimer replied.

Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine said: “That is not good language”, before Clifford-Lee added: “It is very gendered language … I take exception to misogynistic language.”

Norris then stated: “How is it gendered language? That is rubbish. It is absolute tripe.”

Referencing the ‘misogynistic’ remark, Buttimer said Clifford-Lee “has used that phrase in the House a couple of times”.

“If Senator Clifford-Lee wants to throw things at me that is fair enough, but one thing she cannot accuse me of is that. I have never done that,” he added.

‘A disservice’ 

Senator Terry Leyden stood up for his Fianna Fáil colleague Clifford-Lee, describing her as “an inspiration to women in this country” due to her work.

The Cathaoirleach, Denis O’Donovan, threatened to suspend the House if there were any more interruptions.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

Clifford-Lee asked Buttimer if he would have said what he did “if it was a man who was sitting where I am?”

Buttimer said he doesn’t engage in “personal attacks” and found Clifford-Lee’s remarks “very disappointing”.

O’Donovan then suspended the House for 15 minutes, stating: “What is going on here is nonsense.”

Tweet by @Gabrielle McFadden Senator Source: Gabrielle McFadden Senator/Twitter

Speaking after the suspension, Fine Gael Senator Gabrielle McFadden said Clifford-Lee had done “a huge disservice to women by accusing any man who disagrees with her of misogyny”.

“Women are often mistreated or dismissed in society – she undermines all our struggle by making duplicitous accusations just to get attention for herself,” she tweeted.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel