Fianna Fáil Dublin city councillor Tom Brabazon hit out at criticism of his comments and argued they are a fair reflection of the issue after his party colleague, Senator Averil Power — who is likely to seek a Dáil seat in the same constituency — said the remarks are “deeply offensive” to women.
Writing in the latest edition of the Northside People newspaper, Mr Brabazon said the public “should want real women with real life experience of the education system, the workplace, childbirth, childcare, managing money in tight situations and general life”.
He said the gender quota concept, which will force all political parties to ensure at least 30% of their candidates are women from now on or face hefty fines, was a “tokenistic patronisation of women” and would give a false balance to the Dáil.
Defending the comments on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke yesterday, Mr Brabazon said there was nothing wrong with what he said.
He insisted the quota would “inevitably mean male candidates are deprived of the opportunity to run in the general election” and the policy would “stifle talent coming through”.
Mr Brabazon said the new system was “utterly perverse and fundamentally undemocratic”, that male candidates would be unfairly “knocked off” the ballot paper, and claimed “women with families don’t want to get involved in the long, hard gruel of politics, they don’t want to be dragged away from their families”.
However, Ms Power said the remarks ignored the fact the Dáil was 85% male, unrepresentative of the wider community, and while the quota initiative was a “last resort”, no woman would be elected “unless they are the right person for the job”.
She said she found her party colleague’s decision to think it was appropriate to examine potential female candidates’ family lives or whether they have had children as “really deeply offensive” as the issue was never raised about male candidates.
Mr Brabazon and Ms Power are likely to seek the Fianna Fáil nomination for the Dublin Bay North constituency.
It is now exactly one year until the latest point Taoiseach Enda Kenny can wait before calling the general election.
While austerity measures, claims of a recovery and other matters continue to divide the parties, the looming issue of gender quotas is at least one point of importance everyone can agree on.
Each party has insisted it is doing everything possible to reach the 30% female candidate quota line. But with male TDs less than keen to make way for the inevitable changes, how big a mountain do the four main political parties still have to climb?