Cash incentives for female candidates in the upcoming local elections will benefit established parties more than Independents.
Female candidates running with established parties are set to receive up to two and a half times the level of financial incentive compared to non-party candidates seeking election.
A Government source confirmed the gender incentive scheme will be finalised this week. Small amounts of money will be made available for each female candidate fielded in the May 24 local elections.
However, amounts will differ. And parties that have increased the level of women running and reached or surpassed the new 30% gender balance threshold will receive the most.
A party that runs this level of women and which increases its gender representation on the 2014 local elections will be paid €250 per candidate. Where the quota is not reached or a party’s level of female candidates is less than the last local elections, €100 will be paid per candidate.
The anomaly arises for independent candidates or non-party contenders, who will receive a flat rate of €100 each, government sources confirmed.
Monies paid to candidates and parties will be paid out over the term of a council and must be used to promote diversity in politics, including the participation of women.
Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan recently told the Fine Gael party at one of its weekly meetings that the scheme to pay female candidates would benefit parties more than Independents.
Mr Phelan’s department has also commissioned research-to start immediately following the 2019 elections-to delve deeper into the issues holding women back from running for local elections.
His department also said that practical measures will be introduced to support family friendly policies in the operation of local councils.
Several councils currently have few if no female representation.
Women make up 21% of city and county councils, with varying levels.
Offaly has no female councillors, Carlow has one, and Longford two. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown has 17 female councillors, almost half that council, while a third of Dublin City councillors are women.
Campaign group Women for Election says the full quota system for general elections needs to apply to local elections. This requires at least 30% of candidates to be women or parties receive less funds.