Fianna Fáil ‘disappointed’ as it fails on female candidate targets

Less than 20% of party’s nominees for local and European elections are women

Winner of Fianna Fáil’s selection convention for the Dublin Constituency in the forthcoming European Parliament Election Mary Fitzpatrick and  Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Winner of Fianna Fáil’s selection convention for the Dublin Constituency in the forthcoming European Parliament Election Mary Fitzpatrick and Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Fianna Fáil has conceded it is “disappointed” with the proportion of female candidates it is running in the local and European elections in May.

The party’s enterprise spokesman Dara Calleary said today that less than 20 per cent of its candidates nationally for the May 23rd elections would be women, significantly less that the 30 per cent quota that will come into operation in 2016.

Like other parties, Fianna Fáil had aspired to get its proportion of women candidates close to the 30 per cent target.

“We are disappointed. We are accepting that. We would would have moved we had more,” said Mr Calleary.

Mr Calleary said that the outcome in Dublin was more positive, being close to 30 per cent.

Party general secretary Sean Dorgan also said this morning the party would field some 420 candidates in the local elections, and would put particular emphasis on recovering its support in the capital, through its European Parliament candidate Mary Fitzpatrick and its local election team. Both were speaking at a press conference to outline details of the party’s 75th Árd Fheis which will be held in Killarney this weekend.

Both Mr Dorgan and Mr Calleary disclosed that the party has some 20,000 registered members (those who have paid an annual fee of €20) and a further 20,000 assoiciate members. It is the first time the party has been in a position to give a reliable indicate of membership, as in the past it relied on its nationwide network of cumainn to supply membership details. Many of those records were out of date.

Mr Dorgan said there would be an “almighty party effort” to try to win a EU parliament seat in the three-seat Dublin constituency, and an effort to increase its number of councillors on Dublin City Council to more than the total of six it has at present (out of 52).

The party will be targeting strong gains in this council, which will have an additional ten seats after local government reforms. Both declined to predict how many seats the party expects to win in both elections. While the party won 218 seats based on 25.4 per cent support in 2009, there are more council seats this time.

On the other hand, said Mr Dorgan, the party would be taking its general election showing of 17 per cent as its baseline rather than the 2009 level of support.

Mr Calleary said he would be happy to achieve 2009 levels of support. It was also disclosed that the party has debts of some €850,000 but Mr Dorgan said it hoped it would have those cleared within a year. Besides State funding, the party has also raised some €400,000 from membership fees as well as € 590,000 from its annual draw.