Micheál Martin: meeting gender quotas for FF will mean ‘hard decisions’

Party to select between 20 and 27 women to run in general election

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Prof Yvonne Galligan with FF Senators Mary White (back left) and  Averil Power at the report launch of the Markievicz Commission. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Prof Yvonne Galligan with FF Senators Mary White (back left) and Averil Power at the report launch of the Markievicz Commission. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Imposing women candidates in constituencies with established male politicians to meet gender quota requirements will involve “hard, tough and difficult decisions”, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

He said the party, which currently has no female TDs, is working towards fielding at least one woman candidate in the next general election in half of the constituencies where it has no sitting TD. It also wants to run women in 50 per cent of constituencies where it has one seat and intends to run more than one candidate.

“There are people out there who have worked hard towards this date and who have been very singularly focused as individuals, irrespective of gender, on the date of the next general election.

“It will mean hard decisions, tough decisions, very difficult decisions, but that is the nature of political leadership: it’s the nature of politics.”

The move, recommended by the party’s Markievicz commission, will require Fianna Fáil to select between 20 and 27 women candidates depending on the overall number of candidates put forward.

Tight tickets

Mr Martin said the national constituencies committee would have the capacity to add candidates to tickets. Fianna Fáil would be running “relatively tight tickets” in many constituencies, he added.

“In many three-seaters we’ll be running one candidate – that may change in an odd one or two. In four-seaters quite similarly, and we’ll have different strategies in five-seaters. It makes it a fairly challenging prospect for the national constituencies committee but we have to do it and I see this statutory obligation as an opportunity to go with the spirit of it.”

Political parties will have to implement a 30 per cent gender quota for general election candidates or face severe financial penalties. State funding for parties will be cut by half unless at least 30 per cent of candidates put forward are women.

Prof Yvonne Galligan of Queen’s University Belfast, who chaired the commission, said following on from the general election the party should work towards selecting at least one woman and one man to contest each constituency. She said the exceptions would be constituencies with two incumbents.

Mr Martin’s Cork South Central constituency has two Fianna Fáil TDs: finance spokesman Michael McGrath and himself. Galway East has Michael Kitt and Colm Keaveney.

Prof Galligan also recommended a structured mentoring programme be put in place to help the party meet quota requirements.