FG backbenchers query legal advice on gender quota Bill

Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 01:00

FINE GAEL backbenchers last night spoke out against Government policy on the introduction of gender quotas.

Cork North West TD Michael Creed said there was no doubt Irish politics needed more women deputies but he criticised the Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Bill 2011 which was debated in the Dáil last night.

“This legislation is not the way to go. It is a form of electoral engineering which is a step too far,” Mr Creed said.

“In a Government driven by real reform I think we should have far more open debate on this. We shouldn’t have the party whip vote on it,” he added. Mr Creed said the legal advice on the constitutionality of what was being proposed should be published.

Carlow-Kilkenny deputy John-Paul Phelan warned “there is a real possibility that part of this legislation dealing with gender quotas might be unconstitutional”. Mr Phelan is a constituency colleague of Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, who has sponsored the legislation.

“While I support the idea of the development of gender quotas, it is window-dressing to an extent,” Mr Phelan said.

The proposed law would halve State funding to parties unless 30 per cent of their candidates at the next general election are women. Another Government backbencher, Joanna Tuffy of Labour, has also been a vocal critic of the concept of gender quotas.

* Proposed legislation to reform the laws on corruption and bribery was brought to Cabinet by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter yesterday.

A Government spokesman confirmed Mr Shatter sought approval to publish the revised general scheme of the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill aimed at making anti-corruption measures “more accessible”. The proposed measure would replace the seven intertwined enactments that make up the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889-2010, he said.