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Gender quotas bill welcomed by women's groups

The legislation will halve the funding for political parties if they don’t run at least 30 per cent of candidates of either gender.

Female politicians in 2008 celebrating 90 years of women in the Oireachtas (File photo)
Female politicians in 2008 celebrating 90 years of women in the Oireachtas (File photo)
Image: James Horan/Photocall Ireland

NEW LEGISLATION WHICH encourages political parties to run at least 30 per cent candidates of either gender has been welcomed by women’s groups.

The new bill is aimed at increasing the number of women in the Dáil.

Under the planned legislation, parties will have their funding halved if they fail to run at least 30 per cent candidates of either gender in general elections.

Ireland currently ranks 77th out of 133 nations for women’s political representation.

“This legislation will address the gender imbalance which has been so persistent in Irish politics,” said Katherine Dunne, Chair of Labour Women.

“While it will probably take a couple of electoral cycles before the much improved outcomes will be seen, by then we should have a situation where women candidates are firmly part and parcel of how the political parties do business,” said Dunne.

Six EU countries already have similar gender quotas legislation.

Almost half of Ireland’s 43 constituencies don’t have a female TD, and men currently hold 85 per cent of the seats in Dáil Éireann.

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On Twitter, The 50/50 Group, which advocates for equal gender representation in Irish politics, tweeted that the legislation was “a true equality measure”.

Former Fine Gael minister Gemma Hussey tweeted that the legislation was “great news” – but added that it not be confined to general elections and should include local elections too.

Gender quotas have been criticised from several sides however – including from Labour Party TD Joanna Tuffy, who described them as “anti-democratic, discriminatory and potentially unconstitutional”.

The Electoral (Amendment)(Political Funding) Bill 2011 was introduced in the Dáil and will be published before Christmas.

Column: For a new politics, we need more women in the Dáil >

Column:  Gender quotas do women no favours – and undermine democracy >

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