Fine Gael struggles to meet quota for women on ticket
FINE Gael is considering approaching one of the Taoiseach's Seanad nominees as concern grows within the party over the looming gender quota targets.
Senior Fine Gael figures say the party is at least "four women short" of meeting the 30pc targets and will have to resort to adding candidates in a number of constituencies.
The Irish Independent can reveal that the party has discussed the prospect of approaching Senator Marie Louise O'Donnell, who has strong Fine Gael credentials.
She has also been asked by the Taoiseach to carry out a report into civil service reform.
While Ms O'Donnell is originally from Foxford in Co Mayo, she currently lives in the capital and spent 24 years working in Dublin City University, which is based in Dublin North West.
At present, the party only has one candidate in the three-seat constituency, in Councillor Noel Rock.
Other constituencies being considered in terms of adding women are Louth, Cork East, Cork North Central, Clare and Wicklow.
"We need to find four women and it's fair to say a Taoiseach nominee, such as Marie Louise O'Donnell will be considered," said a party strategist.
However, Ms O'Donnell said she had yet to receive any approach.
"Nobody has asked me, either in person, phone or text. So, as if often the case, the person subject to the rumour is always the last to find out," she told the Irish Independent last night.
But she admitted that being linked to an election run was "complimentary".
"I do have Fine Gael credentials, that is correct. And I have hopefully used my time in the Seanad effectively," she added.
With the possibility of a sudden election this year, all parties are now under pressure to meet the gender quotas.
Topping the board is new party the Social Democrats, with a 50-50 gender split between their 10 declared candidates.