Gender quotas are discriminatory

I AGREE with Joanna Tuffy TD when she said she believed in ” the principle that anyone can contest an election irrespective of their gender and that voters can make up their own minds who to vote for irrespective of gender.”

I strongly disagree with Linda Kelly (Letters, June 27) who said “Ms Tuffy wants to preserve the status quo where women are excluded because of their gender”. Ms Kelly seems to have misunderstood Ms Tuffy’s warning on quotas. The problem with gender quotas if introduced is that the principle of “quotas/discrimination” is established, ie quotas are deliberate discriminatory tools which attempt to “change” election outcomes (the phrase gerrymandering comes to mind). The Equal Status Act outlines nine grounds that any person may not be discriminated against. Discrimination is described in the act as the treatment of a person in a less favourable way than another person is, has been or would be treated on any of the following grounds.

They are gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, religious belief and membership of the Traveller community. Contained within these nine grounds an argument could be made, depending on the balance of power at any given time, for the prompt introduction of at least another nine types of electoral quotas. For example 10% of the population are gay so why not a 10% gay quota? 11% of the population are over the age of 65 so why not a 11% over-65 age quota? 88.4% of the population are declared Catholics so why not a 88.4% Catholic quota? The Constitutionality of the introduction of any quotas/discrimination tools would appear to be clear cut. An all-party committee already warned last July that “any measure which coerced political parties to select certain types of candidates or which imposed a quota in that regard would probably be unconstitutional”. A costly date at the Supreme Court awaits any legislation introducing any quotas.

I believe that one vote for whomever you choose to vote for rather than one vote for whomever is chosen for you to vote for is what our Constitution sought to achieve. Minister Phil Hogan has a duty to defend and uphold our Constitution rather than pander to the lobbying efforts of those who wish to destroy it. There is nothing preventing women, gays, older people etc from standing for election at present. The old adage of “if ain’t broke don’t fix it” comes to mind.

Kevin Cooney

Killester

Dublin 5

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