Parties sticking with male candidates for local elections

Despite repeated promises by the four main political parties to get more women involved in local politics, only 15 out of 71 candidates standing for Cork County Council in May’s local elections are female.

Fine Gael — currently the largest party on the council with 22 seats — is fielding 28 candidates.

Fianna Fáil, which has 12 seats, is fielding 22, while Labour, with seven seats, is putting nine into the field.

Sinn Féin has just one seat, but is looking to increase that substantially and has put out 12 runners.

The number of seats on the council is to rise from 48 to 55 to allow for more representation following this summer’s abolition of the 12 town councils in Cork.

A number of outgoing town councillors will contest the election.

Sinn Féin has the largest amount at six, while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have two each and Labour has one.

A third of all Sinn Féin candidates are women, compared to a quarter of Fine Gael’s.

Of Labour’s nine candidates, only one is a woman and there are just three in the Fianna Fáil line-up.

Fine Gael has the largest number of outgoing county councillors seeking re-election at 17, while Fianna Fáil has 10, Labour six, and the solitary Sinn Féin representative on the council, Michelle Hennessy, is also seeking to retain her seat.

It is as yet unclear how many candidates will run as independents. They currently hold six seats and believe this will be significantly increased.

Initial predictions show there could be up to 20 independent candidates in the field, the overwhelming majority of whom will be men.

Cllr John Paul O’Shea (Ind) — who at 25 became the youngest county councillor following the last local elections in 2009 — said independents can offer a real alternative and expects them to do very well.

Sinn Féin also believes they will do well, getting at least eight candidates across the line. They are aiming to win at least one seat in every electoral ward.

Fianna Fáil is hoping for a bounce back and their leader on the council, Cllr Alan Coleman, predicts his party will increase its seats from 12 to 18.

This year’s local elections will be harder to read as a number of the constituency boundaries in Co Cork have changed, which will suit some of the household names aiming to retain their seats, but not others.

The hottest contest is expected in the new West Cork electoral area, which is an amalgamation of the Skibbereen and Bantry electoral area.

The number of seats up for grabs in this region has actually been reduced from 12 to eight, even though the new area is now twice the size of some Dáil constituencies.

There is no doubt some household names will lose out in this new constituency and Fine Gael could well lose two of its current six seats in the area as a result.

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