Varadkar defends government failure to nominate woman for EU Commission job

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has defended the government’s failure to nominate a female candidate for a role with the European Commission.

It comes after incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs she would ask each member state to nominate two candidates, one male and one female.

The government has nominated Phil Hogan for a second term in Brussels and has not put forward a woman candidate.

Despite this Mr Varadkar insisted he’s a “strong believer in gender balance both in politics and in business.”

He added: “I lead a party that had more female TDs, more female MEPs and more female councillors than any other party so we’re practicing what we preach.

“When it comes to the top European positions the government has renominated Phil Hogan for the European Commission.

“We have an Irish woman who’s first vice-President if the European Parliament [Mairead McGuinness] and we have an Irish woman who’s the EU Ombudsman [Emily O’Reilly] and we’re putting forward Phil Hogan for the European Commission so there’s good balance there I think.”

He was speaking after an event for small and medium enterprises where they were briefed on the government’s Future Jobs initiative.

Me Varadkar warmed businesses to prepare for Brexit. He said he’s still optimistic that a no-deal scenario can be avoided but it can’t be assumed it will be “alright on the night” and there’ll be further extensions to the Brexit deadline of October 31.

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