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Revealed: How and why Fine Gael needs to find at least five women

With all 40 selection conventions complete, party strategists are now deciding where to add candidates in order to comply with gender quotas.

Enda Kenny with two of the few female Fine Gael parliamentary party members, senator Imelda Henry and TD Mary Mitchell-O'Connor.
Enda Kenny with two of the few female Fine Gael parliamentary party members, senator Imelda Henry and TD Mary Mitchell-O'Connor.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

FINE GAEL IS likely to add at least five female candidates to general election tickets in several constituencies across the country  in order to comply with gender quotas.

Up to ten constituencies are under active consideration for the addition of candidates with party strategists currently assessing the situation ahead of expected announcements in the coming weeks.

Fine Gael’s state funding will be halved unless 30% of its Dáil hopefuls are female when the general election takes place next spring.

Following Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s selection in Mayo last night, Fine Gael has completed all 40 of its constituency conventions, with 80 candidates selected, including 59 men and 21 women.

This means 26% of the party’s selected candidates are female, leaving Fine Gael between four and five women short of the 30% target.

TheJournal.ie has learned that Fine Gael is considering adding five women in addition to two men which would bring its percentage to 30% when rounded-up.

Cabinet ministers Charlie Flanagan and James Reilly and junior ministers Simon Harris, Dara Murphy, Joe McHugh, Jimmy Deenihan and government chief whip Paul Kehoe are all among those facing the possibility of having female candidates added to their tickets.

Party strategists are understood to be looking at five-seat constituencies in particular with Louth, Donegal, Wicklow, Wexford, Kerry and Dublin Fingal all under consideration.

The constituencies of Clare (4 seats), Laois (3), Cork East (4) and Cork North-Central (4) are also being considered for the addition of candidates, it is understood.

A party spokesperson said: “Now that our selection conventions are completed, it is standard practise for Fine Gael’s National Executive to review the numbers of candidates around the country and to add more candidates where needed.

We fully anticipate that Fine Gael will meet the gender quota for the 2016 General Election.

The sitting ministers, TDs and senators, who are running in the next election and whose constituencies are under consideration for the addition of candidates, are:

Clare (4 seats) – Incumbent TDs Pat Breen and Joe Carey

Cork East (4) - Incumbent TDs Tom Barry and David Stanton

Cork North-Central (4) - European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy

Donegal (5) - Gaeltacht Minister Joe McHugh

Dublin Fingal (5) -  Children’s Minster James Reilly and TD Alan Farrell

Kerry (5) - Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan and TD Brendan Griffin

Laois (3) – Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

Louth (5) –  Incumbent TDs Fergus O’Dowd and Peter Fitzpatrick

Wexford (5) - Government chief whip Paul Kehoe and senator Micheal D’Arcy

Wicklow (5) – Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris and TD Andrew Doyle

Read: Did Fine Gael shaft women in Louth

Read: Enda Kenny’s secret list of women is causing ructions in Fine Gael

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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