Social Background and Political Attitudes

Intra-party attitudes graph


Posted on behalf of Michael Courtney, Dublin City University

This blog outlines the main arguments from a recent article published in Irish Political Studies by the author. The article is available free to download until the end of August at

There is considerable contemporary interest in maximising the efficacy of Irish democracy. This has manifested itself in proposals incentivising parties to run more female candidates at general elections and a constitutional convention which included, as far as practicable, people from wider range of socio-demographic backgrounds than would otherwise be found in the Dáil and Seanad. Continue reading

Its a Man’s World: Mediations of Women and Politics on Prime Time

women-in-politics2Posted on behalf of Dr Anne O’Brien, National University of Ireland Maynooth. This blog presents the arguments from a paper published in Irish Political Studies by the author. Free access to the paper is available for the month of March at


Media depictions of women in Irish politics are far from unproblematic. The mediated space for women on the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ’s flagship current affairs series Prime Time during General Election 2011 was structured on highly gendered terms. In the 11 episodes of election coverage, women’s engagement with politics was gendered through processes of numeric underrepresentation, gendered visual practices, the use of predominantly male sources and by structuring the content of women’s contribution to political debate. Continue reading

Maternity Leave for Women Parliamentarians: Issues and Proposals

article-1314283-0B4D596E000005DC-686_634x373By Claire McGing, NUI Maynooth

Parliaments, of which the Dáil and Seanad are no exception, are highly gendered institutions. Since the rules were written by men at a time in which women were not expected to participate in politics, the very norms, rules and culture of parliament conform to a male lifestyle. This is why the idea of maternity leave in politics is a problematic, at times controversial, one – lengthy periods away from office for child-bearing don’t ‘fit’ with institutional notions of representative democracy as politicians weren’t really meant to get pregnant in the first place. But, if the will is there, parliaments can be reconceptualised and reformed to catch up with the gendered realities of modern society.

Continue reading

The progress of the Irish Constitutional Convention to date

ccvenDeclaration of interest: The author is the research director of the Irish Constitutional Convention

The Irish Constitutional Convention has almost completed its work.  At its most recent meeting it dealt with the last of the eight topics assigned to it by the Government. All that remains is for the Convention to use its remaining time to consider ‘Any other Amendments’ — the focus of its final meetings early in the New Year.

On its establishment, the Convention was roundly criticised, with much of the criticism focused on the limited (and admitedly pretty eclectic) range of topics that it was given to consider.  Over the course of its deliberations minds have changed and many who were critical of it are less so today (see here for an example).

This post updates on an earlier analysis (see here) of the progress of the Convention to date. Continue reading

The Irish Constitutional Convention: citizen-oriented political reform in action

Declaration of interest: I am one of the members of the academic team advising the constitutional convention on its work programme.

The Irish Constitutional Convention is most of the way through its work programme. Many journalists and other commentators were  critical of the Convention when it was launched. But among those who have witnessed its proceedings the sense is that it has been a success (see, for instance, Harry McGee’s piece).  The Convention’s first report (on voting age and the presidential term of office) was discussed in the Dáil in July, just before the summer recess (see the ministerial statement here) where the government committed to holding referendums on three of the four recommendations made by the Convention and for the fourth item (on giving citizens a say in the nomination of presidential candidates) to be referred to the Environment committee for further consideration — overall, then, a pretty positive reaction by government (so far). Continue reading

Credit where it’s due to the government – and some thoughts on gender quotas. By Matt Wall

So I recently learned that  The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 will soon be passed as law. Looks like some really progressive stuff, especially when you look at the ongoing hyper monetization of politics that is taking place in the usa. I can’t wait to see the parties publish comprehensive accounts, which should let the media, academia, and general public keep a closer eye on how we fund our politics.

Continue reading


posted by David Farrell, June 5 2012

The introduction of gender quotas and its implications for candidate selection and women’s political representation in Ireland will be the focus of a seminar taking place at University College Cork this month. UCC’s Departments of Government and Women’s Studies will present a morning seminar “WOMEN IN POLITICS: FROM QUOTAS TO REPRESENTATION” on Friday, June 15th 2012.

Legislation on political party funding and candidate gender quotas is currently being debated in Dáil Éireann. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 provides for a 30% gender quota for party candidates at the next election, rising to 40% seven years thereafter. Non-compliant parties will risk financial penalties.

Currently, there are only 25 women in Dáil Éireann accounting for 15 per cent of all seats. The numbers for Seanad Éireann are marginally better where 18 of the 60 senators (30 per cent of the seats) are women.

The seminar will hear from a number of researchers and practitioners in the fields of women’s studies and gender politics. Speakers include Minister Kathleen Lynch, Prof. Sarah Childs (Bristol University), Orla O’Connor (National Women’s Council of Ireland) and Fiona Buckley (University College Cork). The seminar will review the current ‘gender quota’ bill and examine how gender quotas can be integrated into candidate selection measures. The seminar will also discuss the link between women’s descriptive and substantive representation, and the impact of women’s (under) representation on policymaking.

The seminar takes place in Room 212 of the O’Rahilly Building, UCC and will run from 9.30am to 12.30pm. While attendance at the seminar is free of charge, attendees are asked to pre-register to ensure availability of seating.

To register and for further information, please contact Fiona Buckley ( or 021 – 4903237).