Rise in number of female election candidates

Controversial moves to force political parties to put more women candidates up for election appear to be working, campaign groups say.

With some 250 candidates still to be selected for the upcoming general election, 89 women have so far been chosen to run, which tops the 86 female candidates who ran in 2011.

The figures have been compiled by the non-partisan group Women For Election, which is encouraged by the shift.

Former environment minister Phil Hogan faced down some opposition bringing in new rules which mean parties will lose half the funding they receive from taxpayers if they fail to field at least 30% women candidates for the general election.

Women For Election’s Suzanne Collins said Fianna Fáil was the only mainstream party not to reach the 30% quota yet, but that it still had a number of selection conventions to get through.

Sinn Féin, which only has one selection contest left to hold, has 38% of its total number of general election candidates being women.

Some 90% of the women selected by the main parties are either incumbents, elected at the local level, or ran for election before, according to Ms Collins.

She said she was encouraged and that the women running are strong contenders for the next Dáil.

“If you look at the profile of independent candidates, or candidates from smaller parties you find that these are women who are campaigners in their local communities, they are leaders in voluntary and community and business areas,” she said.

“So far we are encouraged, there’s a long way to go as there could be 250 candidates left to get on the ticket and it is certainly something that we will be watching very closely,” Ms Collins told RTÉ.

However, concern has been expressed by some groups that women candidates are being used “to make up the numbers” in some constituencies where they have little chance of being elected.

The current Dáil has the largest number of women TDs in history, but it is still 85% male.

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