Fine Gael comes up short on target for women candidates

One-third of general election candidates must be women or the party faces funding cut

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald chaired a  meeting of Fine Gael’s election strategy committee this week which  heard the party was short of its  target of women candidates for the  election. Photograph:

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald chaired a meeting of Fine Gael’s election strategy committee this week which heard the party was short of its target of women candidates for the election. Photograph:

 

Fine Gael may have to add some women candidates to a few of the party’s general election tickets – including where there is an incumbent TD – to comply with new rules on gender quotas.

New rules for the next general election require political parties to ensure one-third of its candidates are women and parties that fail to comply face cuts in State funding.

A meeting of Fine Gael’s election strategy committee, chaired by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, earlier this week heard the party was short of its target.

Fine Gael intends to run as many as 90 candidates in the general election, meaning 30 must be women.

Sources said about 25 women candidates, including sitting TDs, had been identified but an additional four or five places remained outstanding.

Sacrificial lambs

However, senior figures expressed confidence the quota would be reached but said the additional candidates and where they would run would only become clearer closer to the election.

Among those mentioned as most likely to be candidates are Stephanie Regan in Dublin Bay North, Maria Bailey in Dún Laoghaire, Kate O’Connell in Dublin Bay South, Catherine Noone in Dublin West and Aoibhinn Tormey, daughter of former councillor Bill Tormey, in Dublin North West.

There has also been speculation in some Fine Gael circles that Independent senator Marie-Louise O’Donnell could stand for the party in the general election. Ms O’Donnell last night said nobody from Fine Gael had contacted her but when asked if she would run, she said: “That’s a tough question. I don’t know.”

Selection conventions

Meath EastRegina Doherty

Many in Fine Gael circles said the defeat of former IFA president John Bryan at a selection convention for the Carlow-Kilkenny byelection could also be seen in the context of general election.

Mr Bryan is based in rural Kilkenny, near sitting Fine Gael deputy John Paul Phelan, while eventual convention winner Cllr David Fitzgerald is based in the city. Sources said Mr Phelan and Mr Fitzgerald would provide a more balanced ticket.

While there was some speculation Mr Bryan could be a target for Lucinda Creighton’s Reboot Ireland party, this was dismissed by sources close to Ms Creighton. Mr Bryan did not return calls last night.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Journal, Enda Kenny said he intended to serve a full second term and was not interested in running for the presidency. President Michael D Higgins has said he intended to serve one term. The next presidential election is due in 2018, two years into the next government’s term.

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