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Grace O'Donnell
Grace O'Donnell
Image: Irish Election Literature

'Farce': Fine Gael begins adding women

Fine Gael is short on women candidates ahead of the general election.
Nov 2nd 2015, 8:15 PM 17,499 48

FINE GAEL HAS begun the process of adding women candidates to general election tickets across the country with a former town councillor set to run alongside two incumbent TDs in Kerry.

Grace O’Donnell, a former mayor of Tralee, has been added to Fine Gael ticket in the five-seat Kerry constituency alongside sitting deputies Brendan Griffin and Jimmy Deenihan, who is the Diaspora Minister.

O’Donnell was added last week after her name came before the party’s national executive. She was Tralee town councillor from 2009 to 2014, serving as mayor in 2011, before she failed to win a seat a seat on Kerry county council last year.

At least three more women will be added to tickets in the coming weeks as Fine Gael looks to ensure that 30% of its Dáil hopefuls are female in order to comply with new gender quota rules and avoid a cut in State funding.

The process of adding people to election tickets after selection conventions have taken place is proving controversial amongst many in the party.

One Fine Gael source in Kerry said the addition of O’Donnell and the general issue of adding female candidates after members have already had their say at convention proved “what a farce the gender quotas are”.

“If you are trying to genuinely get more women in politics, we should look at more practical solutions like more family friendly working hours.” the source said.

O’Donnell did not respond to a request for comment today. Deenihan could also not be reached for comment. Griffin said only that he is focussed on his own campaign.

bg jd Kerry TDs Jimmy Deenihan and Brendan Griffin Source: RollingNews.ie/Facebook

“I’ve delivered for the people of Kerry on the key issues I stood on in 2011 and that certainly is a help going into this election. I am focused on my own campaign as I have always done,” he said.

TheJournal.ie reported last month that Fine Gael had identified 10 constituencies where candidates will be added in order to comply with gender quotas.

After completing selection conventions in all 40 Dáil constituencies, just 26% of the party’s candidates were female meaning the addition of at least four women would be needed.

But, as we reported last month, the addition of two men and five women – which would bring the party to 30% female candidates – is being considered.

After Kerry, the party is still considering adding candidates in the other five-seaters of Donegal, Wicklow, Wexford, and Dublin Fingal.

It’s less likely that a candidate will be added in the other five-seater of Louth, it is understood. Fine Gael election strategists are also mulling the addition of candidates in Clare (4 seats), Laois (3), Cork East (4) and Cork North-Central (4).

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

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

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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Hugh O'Connell

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