Election analysis shows men still dominate the chamber

MEN are still the dominant force in local councils with just 23 extra women elected in the June elections, a six point drop on the growth in the previous local election.

The first gender analysis of the 2004 local elections shows the growth of women councillors has remained stubbornly slow.

Only 154 women councillors were elected in the June local elections, according to figures compiled by the General Council of County Councils.

Women represent just 17.5% of the entire 883 city and county councillors elected throughout the country. This is a growth of just 23 women councillors compared to the 29 extra women councillors elected in the 1999 local elections.

General Council of County Council's director Liam Kenny said: "It is surprising in the first national election of the 21st century that there is not a strong representation of women in council chambers."

However, the National Women's Council (NWC) believes the main reason for the failure of local councils to attract more women is because they are not family friendly. NWC spokeswoman Orla O'Connor said: "New laws must be brought in to force by all political parties to have the same number of men as women candidates at the next elections."

Women still represent over 50% of the population but deserve to have an equal representation on councils, said Ms O'Connor.

"Councils will have to provide créches to help women with children and hold their meetings at more family friendly times," she said.

Meanwhile, the survey also showed Fine Gael has the largest number of women councillors at 57; Fianna Fáil has 42 and Labour 21. Sinn Féin has the lowest number of women councillors with just five of its 54 local authority members women.

Women account for one-third or more of the membership of the councils in only two of the 34 county and city councils - Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal.

The worst female representation is on Clare County Council where women account for just two of the 32 seats.

In Cork City, there are six women on the 31-member council; in Cork county eight of the 48 members are women and in Kerry only three of the 27 counciIlors are women.

In Limerick City, three of the 17 councillors are women and in Limerick county, six of the 28 councillors are women.

In Waterford City, only two of the 15 councillors are women, while in Waterford county there are five women on the 23-member council.

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