Sunday 21 December 2014

More female councillors 'would lead to better decisions' - poll

Niall O’Connor Political Correspondent

Published 19/05/2014 | 07:53

Senator Averil  Power
Senator Averil Power

SEVEN out of ten voters believe their local authority would make better decisions if it comprised of more female councillors, a new opinion poll reveals.

The poll illustrates a strong desire among the electorate for greater female representation in local politics.

Some 69pc of those surveyed believe their local authority would deliver better outcomes for communities if more council seats were occupied by women.

The poll, commissioned on behalf of 'Women For Election', also shows that the majority of voters (58pc) would opt for a female candidate over a male if both candidates were of equal merit.

And it reveals that the electorate overestimates the number of women that currently occupy council seats.

Just 17pc of council seats across Ireland are currently filled by women. Female representation has proven an issue for a number of political parties ahead of this week's elections, particularly Fianna Fail.

Prominent senator Averil Power recently received a dressing down from Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin after she criticised the party's policy on gender quotas.

Fianna Fail has selected just one female candidate in the European elections, and a mere 17pc of its local election candidates are female, despite setting a target of 33pc.

Ms Power received a dressing down from Mr Martin after she wrote an article in the Irish Times which criticised the party's failure to attract more women candidates.

Today's poll of over 1,000 voters illustrates the desire among voters to increase female representation at local level.

Co-founder of 'Women for Election', Niamh Gallagher, said that Friday represents a crucial opportunity for the electorate to ensure the low number of women in councils is increased.

"Almost 7 in 10 believe their local council would make better decisions if there were more women councillors," Ms Gallagher said.

"This response is unsurprising because it is clear that a council which is more representative of the electorate will make better decisions.

"On May 23, Irish voters have the opportunity to increase the number of women elected to local councils.   This survey shows that not only do they want more women in politics, they are also more likely to vote for a woman if candidates are of equal merit.," she added.

 

*1,001 voters were polled by Amarach Research on behalf of ‘Women for Election’.

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