Parties fall short of gender quotas

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil lag far behind the Labour Party and Sinn Féin in selection of female candidates

Fine Gael has selected 399 candidates to date, of which 312 are men and 87 are women. Fianna Fáil has so far selected 357 candidates of which 60 are women. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Fine Gael has selected 399 candidates to date, of which 312 are men and 87 are women. Fianna Fáil has so far selected 357 candidates of which 60 are women. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

The two major parties are struggling to achieve recommended gender quotas in their slates of candidates for the local election candidates.

While neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil have finalised their candidate selection, an analysis of their selected candidates to date shows that only 22 per cent of Fine Gael candidates are women, while Fianna Fáil has fared even poorer in terms of gender balance with only 17 per cent of female candidates.

This elections for the 31 city and county councils in May will be the last where there is no statutory requirement for a minimum percentage of male or female candidates. A new law introduced by Minister for Environment and Local Government Phil Hogan will result in parties losing a portion of their State funding from the next general election if they fail to meet a 30 per cent threshold of female or male candidates.

While there is no such legal requirement in place for this year’s elections, all of the political parties have said they will aspire to meeting the quota in so far as is practicable.

Fine Gael has selected 399 candidates to date, of which 312 are men and 87 are women. Fianna Fáil has so far selected 357 candidates of which 60 are women. However, the ratio of female to male is somewhat higher in Dublin where about a third of its candidates (14 out of 45) are female.

In contrast both the Labour Party and Sinn Féin have exactly the same percentage of female candidates among the totals selected so far - slightly under 30 per cent.

Some 49 of the Labour Party’s 167 candidates are women - and unlike Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, quite a few of its women candidates are outgoing councillors.

Similarly 46 of the 154 candidates selected by Sinn Féin so far are female, although a large majority of its 50 outgoing councillors are male.

The legislation introduced by Mr Hogan was in response to the disproportionate number of Dail Deputies who are male. While the total of 25 women elected to the 31st Dáil represent the highest number ever elected, it still comprises only 15 per cent of the 166 seat chamber.

Fianna Fáil has made big efforts to recruit more female candidates. There are no women among its 20 TDS and only two of its 14 senators is female.

While the party has been actively seeking to bolster its slate with more female candidates, at this stage of candidate selection, it is still lagging behind other parties in terms of gender balance.

All of the parties have emphasised they have not completed their selection process as yet and will continue choosing candidates during February and March.

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