Bertie Ahern and gender quotas
Sir, – Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s assertion that quotas to encourage more women into Irish politics are “zany” are unhelpful to say the least (“Gender quotas are ‘mad’, says Bertie Ahern”, September 18th). He was criticising gender quotas under which parties are to field female candidates as 30 per cent of their electoral ticket or face financial penalties.
The percentage of women in the Dáil currently stands at 16 per cent – placing Ireland dismally 25th out of 28th in the EU. Clearly something needs to be done to address this imbalance. Perhaps Mr Ahern may be interested to know gender quotas work very well in other jurisdictions. In Belgium, for example, women in politics came from similar low levels as in Ireland, but following the introduction of electoral gender balance rules, female participation in the Flemish parliament now stands at a respectable 44 per cent. – Yours, etc,