Charlie Flanagan doesn’t accept male TDs to be ‘culled’

State funding will be cut unless at least 30 per cent of candidates women

 Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan: “I don’t accept that there will be a culling of male TDs”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan: “I don’t accept that there will be a culling of male TDs”

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said he does not accept sitting male TDs will be “culled” to make way for women because of gender quota legislation.

In an interview on The Irish Times political podcast, Inside Politics, Mr Flanagan said he had always been a strong advocate for more women in politics.

“I don’t accept that there will be a culling of male TDs. I believe there are very strong and positive reasons why more women should be encouraged into politics,” he said.

State funding for parties will be cut by half unless at least 30 per cent of general election candidates put forward are women. Mr Flanagan said it was important that quotas were reached and this could be done by “looking carefully” at all constituencies.

His comments come as a constituency colleague of Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was being treated as a “movable feast” to ensure Fine Gael complied with the legislation.

Mayo TD John O’Mahony, the former All-Ireland-winning football manager, has been asked by Fine Gael headquarters to transfer to Galway West ahead of the general election.

Turning to the case of Ibrahim Halawa, Mr Flanagan said he had a 20-minute phone conversation with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry before Easter during which he expressed the Irish Government’s concern for the young man’s welfare.

Mr Halawa, a 19-year-old Irish national from Tallaght, Co Dublin, has been charged with murder, attempted murder and participating in an illegal protest along with hundreds of Egyptians.

“There are just short of 2,000 consular cases being dealt with in my department on an annual basis. I say with certainty no case has had the level of input at official level and at ministerial level as has the case of Ibrahim Halawa,” Mr Flanagan said.

“I want him home with his family to resume his studies in Dublin.”

Separately, Mr Flanagan indicated Ireland would do its best to encourage Britain to stay in the European Union following British prime minister David Cameron’s promise to hold a membership referendum in 2017 if he is re-elected.

Mr Flanagan stressed he would not interfere in something that was a matter for the British people.

“But I would contrast the position of Ireland now with the position of Ireland in the context last year of the Scottish referendum where we remained mute and silent,” he said.

“On this occasion as a friendly neighbour I merely offer some advice as to the importance of the EU.”

Referring to the recent reported entrance of Russian aircraft into Irish controlled airspace, Mr Flanagan said the Government was keeping a close eye on the situation.

“I believe it’s important that our airspace be appreciated and respected,” he said.

“Officials in my department spoke directly to the Russian ambassador following the alleged incursions. We are keeping a close eye on the situation and our concerns have been noted by the Russian ambassador here in Dublin and his government in Moscow. ”

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