1931 – 1994

Ien Dales

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Labor Party politician

Catharina Isabella Dales (October 18, 1931 in Arnhem – January 10, 1994 in Utrecht) was a Dutch politician for the Labor Party. She was, among other things, State Secretary for Social Affairs, Minister of the Interior and Member of Parliament. She lived with her partner Elisabeth Schmitz in Utrecht until her death in 1994. Dales’ statements about integrity in government are still referred to. Her most famous statement, “a little bit of integrity is not possible”, she made in 1992 during a lecture on the subject.
Dales studied andragogy at the University of Amsterdam, after having worked for almost 20 years at the “Kerk en Wereld” (Church & World) foundation. Between 1977 and 1981 she was director of Social Services in Rotterdam, where she had close contact with the alderman of Social Affairs, Elizabeth Schmitz – with whom she would later develop a relationship. She put things in order at the Social Service after a fraud affair.
She was State Secretary for Social Affairs in the second Van Agt cabinet. As Secretary of State, Dales had to make cutbacks and proposed to intervene in the Sickness Benefits Act. In case of illness, employees would only receive 80 percent of the net salary instead of 100 percent. This required intervention in collective labor agreements that had already been adopted. The cabinet clashed with the trade union movement and the plan was eventually dropped. After the fall of this cabinet, Dales came to the House of Representatives for the Labor Party. In 1987 she was appointed mayor of the municipality of Nijmegen. She left this city after just two years to become Minister of the Interior in the third Lubbers cabinet. Dales put the theme of integrity of government and police on the agenda. She designed a new decoration system, in which the emphasis was on social merit instead of social status. Many awards for official anniversaries, the so-called “seat ribbons”, had to make way for the active citizen. The system was introduced in 1994.
On January 10, 1994, she died suddenly of a heart attack. Dales was buried after a memorial service in the cathedral of Utrecht at the Moscowa cemetery in her birthplace Arnhem. On her grave is a robust white stone.
Dales seemed averse to ostentation during her lifetime. Her appearance often showed solidarity with the economically weakest in society. This and her often idiosyncratic behavior made her a popular and well-known politician. In Nijmegen she was nicknamed Ma Flodder, after the eponymous character from the Dutch feature film series.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of COC Nijmegen, the annual Mayor Dales Prize (1996) and the Mayor Dales Lecture (1998) were created by then COC chairman Henk Beerten and writer Cees van der Pluijm.
Source: Wikipedia



Th.H. Dragt e.a., “Een beetje integer bestaat niet. Minister Ien Dales – Een leven tussen geloof en dienen” (Centrum voor Arbeidsverhoudingen Overheidspersoneel, 2004)



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