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Mum Olwyn is right to quit the Dail, insists Fox

A FORMER TD who left politics to be with her family says Olwyn Enright would miss out "on all those important firsts" if she didn't quit the Dail.

The Fine Gael politician announced yesterday that she will not stand in the next election because she wants more time with her young family.

The mum-of-one, who is expecting her second baby in four months, shocked some colleagues yesterday and prompted a fresh debate about women in Irish politics.


But former Independent TD for Wicklow Mildred Fox says that Enright has made the right decision, in spite of the debate it will spark among working mothers.

Ms Fox who left the Dail in 1997 to raise her own family says she is not surprised by the Laois/Offaly TD's resignation.

Writing for the Herald today, Ms Fox outlined how she was in the Dail on the day that she gave birth to her second child.

"I went to the Dail that day, came home, went back in to Holles Street, had a baby, came home, and was back to work in the Dail 10 days later for the budget," she recalls.

"I missed out on all of those important firsts. Even when I was home I was on the phone. It was becoming clear to me that my family had to plan their lives around me.

"My husband, my mother, and my children came last. It became clear to me that I couldn't serve two masters; I had to decide between family and Dail. There was no contest really."

Ms Enright, whose husband Joe McHugh is also a TD, albeit with a lower profile than herself, could have expected to get at least a junior ministry if Fine Gael enter power after the next election.

But she said yesterday: "You know, there's no one going to mind your child for you around the clock. Why would you have them if you're not going to be able to look after them?

"It's not conducive to it, put it that way, especially for a rural TD."

Former Offaly hurling star Brian Whelahan has already been tipped to contest the seat for Fine Gael in Ms Enright's place.

Fine Gael colleagues have been quick to pay tribute to Ms Enright with party leader Enda Kenny thanking her for her "political service and for the initiatives that she brought forward and for the work she did".


Party councillor in Dun Laoghaire Mary Mitchell O'Connor told the Herald today that the Dail needs to change if it is to stop losing talented female politicians.

"Changes need to be made in procedure in Dail Eireann so that women can participate fully," she said.

"There is a problem in how Dail Eireann is operating and instead of paying lip service to reforming the Dail, it needs to be changed so that women who make up 50pc of the population can work efficiently there, without sacrificing their children."