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After Averil's shock departure, how do other parties shape up in terms of women?

We spoke to all of the main parties about reaching the 30% gender quota.
May 31st 2015, 7:45 AM 11,260 45

SENATOR AVERIL POWER sent shockwaves through Fianna Fáil last week when she resigned from the party.

Power made up 50% of Fianna Fáil’s female representation in the Oireachtas, alongside Senator Mary White. The party has no women TDs.

averil Averil Power Source: Photocall Ireland

Despite this, Fianna Fáil remains optimistic of ensuring at least 30% of its candidates in the general election will be women, however.

A party spokesperson told TheJournal.ie:

“Fianna Fáil has made it clear repeatedly that we will meet the gender targets” having implemented “a range of measures designed to assist the party in reaching the statutory requirement”.

As part of this process the party established the Markievicz Commission, chaired by Professor Yvonne Galligan, to outline specific recommendations on how to target women to become involved in the party at all levels.

The spokesperson said many of those recommendations are “already being implemented, including the roll out of candidate workshops to encourage, identify and support women who may be successful in seeking the party nomination for the general election”.

The party has 19 male TDs, but its list of councillors has quite a few women, although – like most parties – is male-dominated.

frances Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Fine Gael, the largest party in the country, has 58 male TDs and 11 women – of this 17 men and two women – Frances Fitzgerald and Heather Humphreys – are ministers.

The party has 14 male Senators and four females, as well as 184 male councillors (79%) and 50 female (21%)

A spokesperson for Fine Gael noted that, as the party that introduced the 30% quota, it is “taking the issue of gender imbalance amongst our politicians very seriously and are hugely invested promoting the increased participation of women at all levels of politics”.

We are confident of meeting the 30% target of female candidates in the next general election. No party has had as many women elected as Fine Gael – more than 30% of all the women ever elected to the Dáil have represented Fine Gael (or its predecessor Cumann na nGaedheal).

The spokesperson said the party has completed gender training with key groups, established an active women’s network amongst female members of the party, and holds events on average once a quarter where women from around the country “get together to exchange ideas”.

Fine Gael has also launched a programme where “politically-ambitious” members are mentored by TDs “so they can learn about the workload of an elected representative, whilst gaining vital insights and advice into planning their own campaigns”.

joan Tánaiste Joan Burton Source: Photocall Ireland

The junior coalition partner also says it is on track to meet the 30% target, with Labour noting 29% of its candidates in last year’s local elections were women.

The party provides mentoring and training for potential female candidates, as well as financial support.

Labour Women donated €5,177.50 to 34 women candidates running in the local elections. The donations covered items such as childcare costs, election materials and hosting events. At the time, the organisation said it hoped the “modest” fund would go “some way towards alleviating the cash burden on candidates”.

Labour has 26 male TDs and seven females, including Tánaiste Joan Burton, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan and junior ministers Kathleen Lynch and Ann Phelan. The party has six women senators and 17 female councillors – 35% of the overall total.

mary lou Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin thinks it will surpass the 30% gender quota. A spokesperson said the party is on track to reach about 40% female representation in terms of general election candidates once its selection conventions are completed.

We are at circa 50% of candidates in northern elections and it is party policy to bring the south up to match.

The party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has facilitated training workshops with female party members across the country in areas such as publicity and policy “in order to encourage those members to consider running for election”.

Sinn Féin has two women TDs – McDonald and Sandra McLellan – and one female senator.

Smaller parties

Three in ten Green Party councillors are women – 47 of the overall 159 local representatives.

Three of the party’s 12 confirmed general election candidates to date are female: Councillor Catherine Martin, Lorna Bogue and Roisin Garvey. In the 2014 local elections, the Greens ran 15 female candidates – accounting for 32% of the party’s overall total.

A spokesperson said the party is “extremely confident” they will achieve the 30% requirement for the general election, having launched a ‘Women in Politics’ manifesto last year.

The People Before Profit Alliance told us the party is “very proud of our record in fielding women candidates in elections”.

“40% of our candidates in the local elections were women (the highest proportion of any political party), and our candidate in the European elections was also a woman, councillor Bríd Smith.

“We’re in the process of building our candidate list for the general election and we’re certainly aiming to ensure that we reach the 30% target for women candidates – and hoping indeed it will be higher.”

The Anti-Austerity Alliance/Socialist Party and Renua Ireland did not respond to requests for comment.

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Órla Ryan

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