A FIANNA Fail election candidate has raised eyebrows after he urged voters to pick "real women with real life experience of childbirth".
Dublin councillor Tom Brabazon made the comment in an article in which he criticised the new rules which require political parties to ensure 30pc of its candidates are women or else face cuts in State funding.
Writing in the Northside People, the Dublin Central councillor said the the legislation is "misconceived" and warned it could lead to "the worst type of tokenistic patronisation of women".
He added: "We should want real women with real life experience of the education system, the workplace, childbirth, child care, managing money in tight situations and general life."
Mr Brabazon's own party colleague, Dublin North Central Central councillor, Deirdre Heney, who does not have any children, described his remarks as "silly" and "foolish".
She told the Sunday Independent: "I think it's a case of conventionitis getting to him. Obviously we need politicians with all kinds of experience, but I just think it's a ridiculous comment to be really honest."
Having worked with Mr Brabazon for more than a decade, Cllr Heney, said his comments are "not something that I would have ever got from him". She added: "It doesn't sound like Tom to me."
However, Cllr Brabazon, a father-of-four, defended his comments, when contacted by the Sunday Independent.
"On a general basis, I don't think it's a sexist remark at all, I think it applies equally to men and women," he said.
He stressed that being a "real woman" does not depend on childbirth, but said the "additional experience" could make "a better legislator".
"The thrust of my point is that if you are making legislation about children or it might be very relevant in the area of abortion, if you've got children of your own you might have a different perspective on it," he said, before adding: "I'm a male politician so I'm never going to have the experience of childbirth."
He described himself as "a big supporter of women candidates" and said female politicians who have children are more "reflective" of the majority of women in society.
"They are more representative and have common experiences," he added.
However, he also believes the experience of having children applies equally to male politicians. "When you have children it completely changes your perspective on life. If I think back to the time before I had children, I wouldn't have felt as strongly on the whole area of childcare costs," he said.
Mr Brabazon's comments come as figures from European agency Eurostat last week revealed the widening pay gap between men and women. In 2012 Irish women earned 14.4pc less than men - while four years earlier the gap was just 12.6pc.