THE introduction of gender quotas will present "hard, tough and difficult decisions" for political parties, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Mr Martin said that there are hard-working male activists within Fianna Fáil who will miss out on their bid to represent the party in the general election because of the new rules.
But he said the statutory requirement to field 30pc female candidates is necessary to boost the number of women in politics.
Mr Martin made the remarks at the launch of the party's Markievicz Commission Report, which recommended that Fianna Fáil puts forward 20-27 female candidates.
Asked about the impact of imposing female candidates on certain constituencies which already have a number of male politicians, Mr Martin said this is a difficult issue for the party.
"It will mean hard decisions, tough decisions, very difficult decisions, but that is the nature of political leadership. It's the nature of politics," he said.
Professor Yvonne Galligan, who led the commission, said all parties have been guilty of neglecting their duty towards women.
"I think that all parties are guilty of this issue because if you look, women's representation in the Dáil has never been more than 15pc.
"It's not only Fianna Fáil that has had a hand in that. All parties have had a hand in that," she said.
Ms Galligan said she hopes the party uses the findings of the commission to increase the number of female politicians at local level.
Failure to comply with the gender rules will result in cuts in State funding.