Thursday 25 May 2017

Gender quota law for parties 'crude, punitive', says FF man in High Court challenge

While women make up about 50pc of the Irish population, just 15pc of
TDs are women, Mr Justice David Keane was told. Stock Picture
While women make up about 50pc of the Irish population, just 15pc of TDs are women, Mr Justice David Keane was told. Stock Picture

Tim Healy

A law linking State funding of political parties to their achievement of gender quotas in selecting candidates for election are "crude" and "punitive", a Fianna Fáil activist has claimed in the High Court.

Brian Mohan (30), a student and barman from Beaumont, Dublin, who had sought to stand for nomination to run in the General Election, said he was told a "diktat" issued from party headquarters had stipulated the sole candidate in his Dublin central constituency must be a woman.

There remains considerable opposition within his party to the gender quota laws and he believed only party leader Micheál Martin and former Fianna Fáil, now Independent, Senator Averil Power had spoken publicly in favour of them, he said. His dispute concerning gender quota laws is with the State, not with Fianna Fáil, he said.

He was giving evidence on the opening day of his challenge to the constitutionality of provisions of the Electoral (Political Funding) Act 2012 which mean political parties will lose half their central exchequer funding unless 30pc of their candidates in the next two general elections are female. All of the parties have said they will meet the gender quota.

The case is against Ireland and the Attorney General, who dispute the claims and argue Mr Mohan's real dispute is with his party, which had not complained about the legislation.

While women make up about 50pc of the Irish population, just 15pc of TDs are women, Mr Justice David Keane was told.

Opening the case, Michael McDowell SC, for Mr Mohan, said the case was not "a backdoor attack" on equality legislation but an argument the Oireachtas is not entitled to introduce a "crude and punitive" measure seeking to use public funds in the hope of ensuring more women candidates in elections.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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