SPEAKING in the Dáil Labour TD Ciarán Lynch has welcomed the provisions in the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 which seek to address the gender imbalance in Irish politics, something the Labour Party has sought for many years.
“While the Dáil may have its highest number of female representatives ever, it still stands at only 15% which equates to only one woman in the Dáil for every eight men; one of the lowest figures in Europe. This must change as this low representation has many knock-on effects for society such as policy decisions that effect women being made by men.
“The Labour Party has for many years highlighted these gender inequalities and published a range of measures in the Party’s Election Manifesto in 2007 and 2011 to address the issue. I also published a Bill while in opposition to encourage political parties to select female candidates.
“At last these issues are being addressed in this Bill. From now on, State funding given to parties will be linked to the amount of female candidates being run as candidates in general elections for the party.
“Currently The Labour Party, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil are eligible for this State funding, however if they do not select 30% female general election candidates they will lose half of this funding. After seven years, 40% of general elections candidate will have to be female. While it only applies to general elections, it is hoped that it will be implemented on a voluntary basis by all parties in local elections, significantly redressing the gender imbalance we see today.
“While there are a range of other issue that need to be addressed such as the unsociable working hours and the cost of childcare, this is certainly a step in the right direction and will help change the predominately male face of Irish politics.”