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Fine Gael risks millions in State funding if they fail to add more female candidates

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Emer Currie at the Fine Gael election convention
Picture: Arthur Carron
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Emer Currie at the Fine Gael election convention
Picture: Arthur Carron

Fine Gael could lose out on million of euro in State funding if it fails to add more female candidates ahead of the next election.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s party does not currently have the 30pc of female candidates required under gender quota laws.

The party had been above the limit for the 2020 general election.

But after dropping Verona Murphy and Senator Maura Hopkins deciding not to run this week, Fine Gael is gone under the 30pc benchmark.

Fine Gael has 81 candidates, 24 of whom are women, a rate of 29.6pc.

A failure to reach the limit results in a party losing half of its State funding for the following Dáil term.

Paschal Donohoe, Fine Gael’s director of elections, is still finalising a few party tickets where there are options of female candidates.

Mayor of South Dublin, Vicki Casserly, was expected to be added in Dublin Mid-West. A decision there was delayed due to the by-election in that constituency.

Ms Casserly is expected to run alongside defeated by-election candidate, Emer Higgins.

In the general election, Fine Gael is expected to win back the seat previously held by MEP Frances Fitzgerald.

Mr Donohoe is also still looking at the line ups in Wexford and Waterford, due to the vacancies caused by Ms Murphy being dropped and Senator Paudie Coffey not running.

In Wexford, councillor Bridin Murphy is now considered unlikely to be added to the ticket.

The figures mean any further male candidates being added would need a corresponding female candidate.

Fine Gael’s new female candidates include Emer Currie, who is running with Mr Varadkar in Dublin West and Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, who replaced swing-gate TD Maria Bailey in Dun Laoghaire.

The percentage of women running for the Dáil was in decline before the introduction of gender quotas by then Environment Minister Phil Hogan. It was 20pc in the 1997 general election, 19pc in 2002, 17pc in 2007 and just 15pc in 2011.

As a result, the main parties ran more than 30pc female candidates and there was a record 35 women elected in 2016.

The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011 sees parties lose half of their central exchequer funding unless they have at least 30pc female and made candidates on their national ticket. The threshold is ultimately due to rise to 40pc.

Online Editors

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