Former ministers hit out over ageism
FORMER government ministers, from across the political divide, have spoken out against ageism after it was suggested on RTE radio that Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte should step aside to give youth a chance.
During the interview, Mr Rabbitte hit back at broadcaster Cathal Mac Coille and said he was sad to see ageism was creeping into RTE.
Speaking about the incident, Mary O'Rourke, who held a number of ministerial briefs for Fianna Fail between 1987 and 2002, congratulated Mr Rabbitte on his stance.
"I heard the exchange and I said if I was Pat Rabbitte and that was said to me I would get up and leave the room.
"I thought: 'what a remark to make'. There has been a lot of ageism directed towards him and Ruairi Quinn," she told the Herald.
Willie O'Dea, a former Fianna Fail defence minister, said: "Ageism is banned in this country, you cannot discriminate on the grounds of age, and it's against the law."
Mr O'Dea pointed out that former US president Ronald Regan had served into his late 70s and that age should play no role in holding a job.
Mr O'Dea added that the only time that age might be taken into consideration was when a minister was no longer physically able to do the job.
Nora Owen, a former Fine Gael minister for justice, said that she believed that the exchange between Mr Rabbitte and Mr Mac Coille was light hearted.
"One has to guard against the impression that once you are over a certain age, that you can't contribute any more," Mrs Owen said.
"No matter what age you are, there's no reason you should be made a minister of passed over," she added.