Ivana Basic: ‘No one would expect Sabina Higgins to leave her thoughts outside’

Labor leader Ivana Besik defended Sabina Higgins, saying she had the right to express her personal views in a controversial letter calling for ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Peak about the letter, which was sent Irish Times and was published on the President’s website. Before being removed, Ms Basic said the reaction directed at Ms Higgins was “disproportionate”.

She also said that there may be an “anti-feminist” element to the storm of criticism.

talking to sunday free, She said: “I think Sabina Higgins’ own statement has resolved the issue and given clarity to the nature of it on the website.

“But obviously he is entitled to express his views as a free man. I saw the backlash against him and I thought it was disproportionate.”

Asked whether there could be an element of sexism in the response to Ms. Higgins, Ms. Basic said: “I don’t know if she was a man it would have been different. Hard to know.

“We’ve never had a situation where a president’s male partner has publicly penned a paper, so it’s hard to know what was wrong there.

“People have the right to express their opinion as private citizens and as a free person they are entitled to their views.

“I’ve known Sabina for a long time and I know her great track record on feminist issues and as an activist and campaigner, and she doesn’t leave it behind. [when her husband enters public office], Nobody would expect that.

“Maybe there were some anti-feminist elements in it. But then people really disagreed with what she said.”

Ms Basic called for more “clarity” on what is allowed in the future on Ms Higgins’ “dedicated section” of the president’s official website to enable Ms Higgins to play a more “public role”.

The letter, in which Ms. Higgins called for a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine, was published on Mrs. Higgins’ own dedicated section of the President’s website.

A user had to click on the ‘Sabina Higgins’ link from the main page to view the article.

Ms Basic said: “Maybe we need more clarity on the section on Sabina’s website. Good to know about the part of the website used by Sabina. I think that solved matters for most people.

“Often a spouse or partner plays a very public role themselves and this can be a way of moving forward with the more formal nature of the role.”

Ms Higgins made the remarks weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the war in Ukraine could only be resolved through “diplomacy”.

Speaking on national TV in May, he said the war could only come to a decisive halt “at the negotiating table”.

Meanwhile, Ms Basic has welcomed the resignations of retired judges Frank Clark and Peter Kelly from the courts of the Dubai International Financial Center after they said it was not appropriate for her to hold office.

“I appreciate them,” she said. “I think it was a fair and sensible thing to do – and to be fair they acted very quickly, and the positive is that it has exposed the deeply repressive and misogynistic nature of the Maktoum regime in Dubai.

“Most lawyers I knew and talked to were happy that someone spoke, and agreed with my position on this.”

He also addressed the recent election which showed that only 4 percent of the people in the election would vote for the Labor Party.

“Really the issue for Labor is to rebuild and increase support for our values,” Ms Basic said.

“We also saw in the by-elections in the Gulf of Dublin in the south last summer that we thwarted the hopes of all pollsters. This shows that there is a strong appetite for change – especially among younger voters.”