Fine Gael believes gender quotas will give it edge over Fianna Fáil

Party strategists say FF will have to add higher number of women to election tickets

Mary Mitchell O’Connor won the Fine Gael selection convention in Dún Laoghaire: The party has now held 18 conventions and picked 11 female candidates. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fine Gael strategists believe the party will have an election edge over Fianna Fáil because of greater progress in the selection of women candidates to meet gender quota rules.

Party sources say Fianna Fáil will have to add a higher number of women to election tickets where a man has already won a convention, possibly splitting the vote in favour of Fine Gael or leaving little time for candidates to bed in.

Fine Gael figures involved in election strategy claim this could play into their hands in many constituencies around the country where the two parties are competing for the same vote.

It is claimed Fine Gael women candidates will be in place after conventions, while Fianna Fáil headquarters will have to add a higher number of women when conventions are completed.


New rules for the next general election require political parties to ensure a third of its candidates are women and parties that fail to comply face cuts in State funding. Fianna Fáil has said it will have the required number of women candidates in place.

Cork North-West TD Michael Moynihan, chairman of the party's constituency committee, said Fianna Fáil had completed 24 of 40 conventions to date, with more to follow in the coming weeks.


However, the party has so far selected just six women:

Mary White


Dublin South


Mary Hoade


Galway West


Norma Moriarty

in Kerry,

Lisa Chambers




Mary Butler



. The Cork South West convention last night was to choose between Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and

Gillian Coughlan


The total to date leaves Fianna Fáil’s percentage of women candidates around the 20 per cent mark, short of the 30 per cent threshold.

“Rest assured, there will be no issue in relation to women candidates,” Mr Moynihan said. “We will meet the requirements.”

In contrast, Fine Gael has held 18 conventions and picked 11 female candidates, leading to a total to date of around 40 per cent women. Some constituencies have more than two candidates.

“There will be some slippage, but we believe we are in a good place,” said one Fine Gael source. “Fianna Fáil will have to add more and will split their vote in some places.”


Fine Gael officials also saw the recent selection convention in

Dún Laoghaire

, won by Mary Mitchell-O’Connor, as crucial in getting the candidate selection process back on track after Minister for Jobs

Richard Bruton

failed to win his selection convention.

Mr Bruton lost his Dublin Bay North selection in April after local delegates revolted over a gender quotas directive from Fine Gael headquarters.

Dublin City Councillor Naoise Ó Muirí and Stephanie Regan were selected and Mr Bruton was later added by party headquarters.

Ms Mitchell-O'Connor beat Councillor Barry Ward, with Councillor Maria Bailey coming in third following a directive from headquarters that only one candidate was to be chosen at convention. It is likely another candidate, tipped to be Ms Bailey, will be added later.

“Dún Laoghaire showed the TDs they have to win their conventions,” said a party source.

Meanwhile, the latest opinion poll shows a drop in Fine Gael support and a rise for Fianna Fáil. The Behaviour and Attitudes survey for the Sunday Times had Fine Gael on 24 per cent, down 3 per cent; Fianna Fáil on 21 per cent, up four; Labour on 9 per cent, up one; Sinn Féin 19 per cent, down one; the Green Party on 2 per cent, down one, and Independents and others unchanged on 26 per cent.