LABOUR TD and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Environment, Culture and Gaeltacht Committee, Ciaran Lynch, has welcomed the progress being made in the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011. The Bill aims to address the gender imbalances evident in Irish politics today. The Bill completed Committee Stage yesterday and is expected to complete report and final stage next week.
“In 2008 I tried to redress the gender imbalance in politics by proposing legislation to encourage greater gender participa within political parties. I was told at the time that this was a fanciful idea. Even when Labour published a range of measures in its Election Manifesto in 2011 to address the issue, the momentum from other parties was still not behind the issue.
“This is why I am pleased to see that this Bill has been listed for the final stage and will be enacted for the next general election. The Bill will ensure that parties eligible for State funding will have their funding reduced by half if 30% of their candidates are not female. After seven years, 40% of all candidates must be female.
“This rule will apply to the Labour Party, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil and while it only applies to general elections, it is hoped it will be brought in voluntarily by parties for local elections.
“Currently Ireland is one of the lowest countries in Europe for female representation in politics. This must change and I am confident that once enacted, this Bill will go some way to redress the issue. We must however look at other barriers to entry such as childcare costs, working hours and the largely male culture of Irish politics. Only when all these issues have been addressed will we truly see a more equal representation of women in Irish politics.”