Record 23 candidates elected so far


WOMEN IN THE DÁIL:THE ELECTION has returned a record number of women TDs – but only by a small margin.

Some 23 women TDs had been elected by yesterday evening, with three other women candidates in contention to take seats in Galway West, Laois-Offaly and Wicklow.

In both 2002 and 2007, 22 women TDs were elected, the highest number returned in a general election.

By the end of the 30th Dáil, however, 23 out of 163 seats (14.1 per cent) were occupied by women deputies, thanks to Maureen O’Sullivan’s byelection victory in June 2009. At best, this total will be exceeded by three, that is, if all the remaining counts go in favour of those women candidates still in the shake-up.

Of the 23 women TDs elected to date to the 31st Dáil, 10 are from Fine Gael: Heather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan), Áine Collins (Cork North West), Frances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West), Olivia Mitchell (Dublin South), Catherine Byrne (Dublin South Central), Lucinda Creighton (Dublin South East), Mary Mitchell-O’Connor (Dún Laoghaire), Nicky McFadden (Longford-Westmeath), Michelle Mulherin (Mayo) and Regina Doherty (Meath East).

Labour has seven women TDs: Ann Phelan (Carlow-Kilkenny), Kathleen Lynch (Cork North Central), Joanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West), Róisín Shortall (Dublin North West), Joan Burton (Dublin West), Jan O’Sullivan (Limerick City) and Ciara Conway (Waterford).

Sinn Féin has two women TDs: Sandra McLellan (Cork East) and Mary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central), while four other women TDs have been elected to date: Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind, Dublin Central), Clare Daly (ULA, Dublin North), Joan Collins (ULA, Dublin South Central) and Catherine Murphy (Ind, Kildare North).

Fianna Fáil – which of all the parties had run the lowest percentage of women candidates (11 out of 75) – returned no women TDs and lost high-profile deputies Mary Coughlan, Mary Hanafin and Mary O’Rourke. Three constituencies – Dublin Central, Dublin South Central and Dublin Mid West – elected two women.

Of 566 candidates in the election, 86 were women (15.2 per cent). Counts were continuing last night in Galway West and Laois-Offaly and will continue today in Wicklow where Catherine Connolly (Ind), Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy (FG) and Anne Ferris (Lab) respectively were all challenging for seats.

The number of women TDs in the Dáil reached the 20 mark for the first time in 1992 when nine new women deputies were elected.

Since then the number has changed very little, with 23 the highest number of women in the Dáil at any one time.