'The Dáil is set to look very different thanks to the incredible success of the gender quota'
No matter what the final outcome and the number of women elected to the 32nd Dáil, the most defining factor for Women for Election will be the incredible success of the gender quota for selection.
With the political parties endeavouring to support and encourage their own women forward and the positive knock-on effect that saw a similar increase among independents and smaller groupings, the percentage of female candidates at 30% was double that of 2011.
Now as first counts come in and tallies give a clearer indication it is evident that many of those women who benefited from the gender quota for selection are ultimately going to become members of the 32nd Dáil. Fianna Fáil looks likely to have the most women added to their parliamentary party. Anne Rabbitte, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Fiona O’Loughlin, Jennifer Murnane O’Connor and Mary Butler are looking certain to be elected and Catherine Ardagh, Niamh Smyth and Lisa Chambers are all in contention.
Sinn Féin, whose Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald is to be the first woman elected for her party, is expected to be joined by Imelda Munster (who incidentally will be the first female TD from Louth in the history of the state) and Louise Reilly among others. It is notable that the outgoing government parties will see very mixed fortunes.
The Labour Party as reflective of the exit poll, tallies and first counts will be expecting to lose Joanna Tuffy, Ciara Conway, Anne Ferris and Kathleen Lynch from their ranks. In contrast, Fine Gael, despite also losing support and seats, will add some new female candidates with Josepha Madigan, Kate O’Connell and Maria Bailey all looking very well placed. Incumbent female TDs Independent Catherine Murphy, Co-Leader of the Social Democrats Roisin Shorthall, Fine Gael’s Mary Mitchel O’Connor and Heather Humphreys and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald have all topped the poll.
It’s too early to call as how many women will enter the 32nd Dáil, but with new female faces joining experienced and formidable women it is certain to look very different.
Suzanne Collins is Director of Operations and Campaigns at Women for Election; www.womenforelection.ie