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What a boob-boo

On the Edge

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

SO when are certain men going to learn that women’s boobs are not ‘weapons of mass seduction’? Have these eejits never heard the medical fact that ‘breast is best’ when feeding our offspring. Offspring that they have a vital part in making, I might add.    
If it wasn’t so serious, wouldn’t it just be so hilarious? I’m talking about the incident at St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge, Co Kildare, on Saturday, June 30, when a young mother, a Mayo fan, was told she couldn’t breastfeed her baby in the stands.
Man, do I hope that silly, misogynistic steward is still blushing at his comments. “You can’t do that here. You can do that in the toilet. That’s where that belongs,” he quipped.
Never mind the fact that the toilets were ‘horrific’ by all accounts, what century did this guy wake up in? Did he think Éamon de Valera and Archbishop John McQuaid had risen from the dead and were lurking somewhere on the sidelines with their rosary beads? Maybe he had a meltdown from all the heat and thought he was living under Sharia Law in Yemen or Saudi Arabia?     
As a mother of three daughters and a former breastfeeder, I have to compliment my young colleague Ciara Galvin for breaking this story in last week’s edition of The Mayo News and thus ensuring it became a matter of national debate on the airwaves and in other newspapers afterwards.

Stunned
SO, Iseult Mangan from Hollymount arrived at the stadium early to ensure she had breastfed her five-month-old baby, Senan, before the crowds arrived and the All-Ireland Round 3 Qualifier between Mayo and Kildare started.    
This was something she had managed to do successfully at other GAA matches while feeding discreetly. It was while she was trying to locate a seat that she was approached by the offending steward. She told The Mayo News last week that she was stunned at his comments and asked (unsurprisingly) if he was serious.
However, he turned away and did not engage with her again. After another interaction with a different steward who wouldn’t allow her go into an area where her family was with her buggy, she burst into tears. To be fair, once the situation was explained to this steward, Iseult Mangan was allowed join her family and treated well by other stewards. They also apologised to her.  
But wasn’t it too little, too late? Wasn’t it an unnecessary intervention in the first place? Well, how would you feel if you were a young mother, or indeed, father, whose baby needed to be fed so that he or she would sleep through the hoopla of a match. A match that we all now know turned out to be a pretty tense and heartbreaking affair for both Mayo players and their thousands of fans.
Of course, it is welcome that a spokesperson for Kildare GAA subsequently said:
“Kildare GAA are extremely sorry that this incident occurred, and a member of our event team apologised to Iseult Mangan immediately when we became aware of it. We have already made the necessary steps to ensure a similar incident will not happen in the future.”
Should not ‘the necessary steps’ (whatever they are) have been entirely ‘unnecessary’ in a contemporary Ireland that now prides itself on being ahead of the posse regarding all sorts of equality issues? Surely we are no longer populated by yokels who believe that a woman’s place is in a stinking public toilet when she is engaged in the most natural and healthy way of feeding our babies?

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