30 Jun 2022

Louth senator hits back at columnist over criticism of Fianna Fáil politicians clothes

Louth Senator welcomes news of imminent approval for Dundalk Irish school

Senator Erin McGreehan

Local Fianna Fáil Senator Erin McGreehan has hit back at Mail on Sunday columnist Niamh Walsh for her article about the appearances of Fianna Fáil politicians during the party’s think-in last weekend.

The article, which was published in the Mail on Sunday last weekend, commented on multiple Fianna Fáil politicians, in particular on women within the parliamentary party, including Senator McGreehan.

Ms Walsh commented on what Senator McGreehan was wearing which she described as a “tuxedo green dress” and that if she was to wear it she should “at the bare minimum run the iron over it because it had left some creased with laughter”.

Senator McGreehan called out Ms Walsh for the article on Twitter, with a significant response from other elected representatives, including An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who called it “an article written in an attempt to demean women who take politics seriously.”

Speaking to the Democrat, Senator McGreehan said it was like a “knee in the gut” when she first read the article on Sunday.

“It was just a real knee in the gut, like it took my breath away that someone could come in with a wrecking ball and be so personal in print media,” said Senator McGreehan,

She said that this kind of abuse would be received on social media platforms like Twitter, but that seeing it published in national media was surprising.

“People act like this on Twitter, people are nasty on Twitter, the insults and throwaway comments on your outfit or your hair or your jumper or whatever.

“This was a journalist who gets paid for her opinion in a national newspaper and that was like, ‘How could you be so blatantly mean?’”

“I don’t think anybody should be treated like that,” said Senator McGreehan.

Senator McGreehan said that she was upset by the story when it was published on Sunday

“I got the article, I was rightly upset by it, really upset, like I really was genuinely upset,” said Senator McGreehan.

Senator McGreehan said that she decided to collect her thoughts before reacting to the story and went for a 7k walk for SoSad, before tweeting her disappointment with the column.

“I just collected my thoughts and I came back and tweeted with my head and my heart, instead of just my heart because I mightn’t have been as clear if I had tweeted straight after I read it.”

Senator McGreehan said that she wasn’t just upset at her portrayal in the article, but upset for her colleagues in the parliamentary party who were mocked by Ms Walsh for their appearances.

“Nobody knows anyone’s struggles, how hard it is for someone to get up in the morning and put that best foot forward on that day,” said Senator McGreehan.

“For someone to come in with a wrecking ball on people who are there not to look well, we’re there to dress appropriately and to give us a bit of confidence to feel well and to do our job well.

“I don’t get my empathy or my passion from my wardrobe, I get that from my want to do my job.”

Local Fianna Fáil Cllr John Sheridan said that politicians should be challenged and critiqued on their policies and decisions, but not on what they wear.

Cllr Pearse McGeough of Sinn Féin said that there was no excuse for the content contained in the Mail on Sunday article, and that politicians should not be judged on their appearances.

The Democrat reached out to the Mail for comment but none has been received as of publication.

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