The Start of Something New? Fianna Fáil’s Gender Equality Action Plan 2013-2018

By Claire McGing, Lecturer in Political Geography & Irish Research Council Scholar, NUI Maynooth


This week (July 30th), Fianna Fáil published the party’s new Gender Equality Action Plan 2013-2018. In a foreword by the party leader, Micheal Martin TD, it is noted that the under-representation of women in Irish politics “is a systematic problem, which requires radical action or nothing will change. It can only be tackled through a willingness to overturn long-established practices”.

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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).

The 50:50 Group manifesto for gender parity in Irish politics

Posted by David Farrell on behalf of the 50:50 Group (January 31, 2011)


Dear Deputy,

The 50:50 Group is a single issue national advocacy group that has come together to campaign for equal political representation in Irish Politics. Our desire for change reflects the public mood to move to a more inclusive form of politics. We are encouraged by your party’s publicly stated intention to reform and renew political structures and to put in place a new type of politics. Continue reading

Gender quota debate rumbles on – but are the two sides talking past each other? (Updated 18th August)

Sarah Carey’s article in today’s Irish Times is the latest contribution in the debate on  whether we should consider adopting party-level gender quotas for the nomination of candidates. This article appears to me to be a particularly striking example of the combative rhetorical strategies that both sides of the debate have employed. Several opinion pieces on this topic have followed the structure: I am for/against gender quotas – now let me tell you why they are wonderful/terrible.

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Today’s women TDs don’t want gender quotas

David Farrell (August 4, 2010)

In today’s Irish Times Mary Minihan reports on a survey of the existing women TDs about their views on gender quotas and the consensus is distinctly against any such move for Ireland. This is on the back of the recent report of the Joint Committee of the Constitution’s call for steps to be taken to increase the numbers of women candidates fielded by the political parties. The Joint Committee stepped back from recommending party quotas on the grounds that they might be unconstitutional.

The top 10 parliaments in terms of representation of women

International evidence demonstrates that women quotas are very effective in increasing the proportions of women parliamentarians. Indeed, Rwanda provides an interesting example in this regard. So, the fact that legal advice suggests that such a move might be unconstitutional here, and the fact that most existing women TDs don’t want them means that, not for the first time, Ireland stands out as rather quirky. Should the constitutionality question be tested? Should existing women TDs be allowed to block women quotas?