The Labour Minister for communications, energy and natural resources has come under heavy criticism this weekend after, what some have called an insensitive comment about women. Rabbitte had been canvassing for various labour councillors around the country on polling day last Friday, when he was asked by a journalist about whether there should be gender quotas in Irish elections.

Rabbbitte, was quick to respond with this comment,

“That’s a loaded question and one that I cannot come to a conclusive answer on. On one hand, you can make a very good argument in favour of gender quotas as a way of creating equality. On the other hand, you can make a strong case against gender quotas by saying they could have a negative effect on equality because the public might respond negatively to a person being placed in office solely on their gender rather than the merit of their work.”

Commenting further on the question, the minister went on to name examples of times where gender quotas could have negative effects and this is where the controversy came to light,

“There are times of course that men and women should not have the same job due to logistical reasons. For instance, I believe that women should not be lifeguards. They would have to be called out of action a few days every month because of their periods. It’s dangerous to have a menstruating woman in the sea water because they attract sharks, that is why I would never go swimming with a menstruating woman for fear of being attacked by a shark

The minister has been urged to apologise for his remarks but so far there has been no statement made by his office.