Thursday 22 August 2019

Revealed: The towns with the most female candidates running for upcoming local elections

  • Steady rise in women running at a local level over the past decade
  • Maynooth University academic Dr Adrian Kavanagh notes the urban/rural divide
Labour councillor Deirdre Kingston
Labour councillor Deirdre Kingston
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

Blackrock and Lucan have been revealed as the towns with the most female candidates running for the upcoming local elections.

South Dublin suburb Blackrock has a total of nine women running alongside two men, while West Dublin village Lucan also has nine female candidates, running alongside three men.

Dublin's south-east inner city and Wicklow's seaside town Greystones were not far off the top spot, with eight females running in each area.

Women account for 28.7pc of the total number of candidates declared nationwide ahead of the city and county council elections on Friday, May 24, according to academic Dr Adrian Kavanagh, but it is the two Dublin towns that have bucked the gender trend.

Cllr. Deirdre Kingston who is running in Blackrock said she's delighted and proud to see "a great crop of women putting their names forward" in her local area.

"I think the quotas at general election level have had an impact," she said.

"Labour have a voluntary quota in place for the local elections and I think other parties should do the same to encourage women to put themselves forward.

"It's about giving women the support and the confidence to run. There are a lot more women becoming councillors and TDs now and this definitely encourages different age levels."

Cllr Ruth Nolan, for Independents4Change, is running in Lucan and said it's "progressive" to see women becoming more involved in politics.

"In a male-dominated profession, I've never felt like I was in a minority, I just get on with my job, but I'm delighted to see women becoming involved in politics.

"Maybe past women have given us the confidence to go forward," she said.

There has been a steady rise in women running at a local level over the past decade, with women accounting for 17.2pc of the total candidates in 2009 and 21.6pc in 2014.

Maynooth University academic Dr Adrian Kavanagh has been monitoring local election selection conventions and attributes the rise in female candidates to a number of factors.

"The rise has been notable since the gender quotas were first mooted for general elections," Dr Kavanagh told Independent.ie.

"There are no gender quotas for the local elections, but if you're a party and you need 30pc to run as female, or male, in the next general election, you need to be serious about running more females in the local. The local election is usually the starting point for a Dáil career."

"There is also the fact that various groups around the country have taken on the job of encouraging more females to enter politics.

"And, finally, we have the impact of the recent referenda, the Repeal the 8th and the marriage equality referendum. A lot of women may have been out campaigning for these issues and this may have inspired them to enter politics."

He noted that the "incumbency factor" may work against females in the upcoming election.

"For the most-part, if councillors decide to run again, they'll get in again. It is harder for new candidates to get in when sitting councillors run again and people are familiar with them and their work."

Dr Kavanagh also noted the urban/rural divide and said he believes urban areas "generally have a lot more women involved in community politics".

"It might also just be the geography that makes it easier for women to run in urban areas, if your constituency is just a few miles across in an urban area, it is a lot easier to be a councillor and a mother than if you are travelling around vast rural areas like Donegal, Kerry or Cork."

Women for Election CEO Ciairín de Buis said the number of females running this year is "very welcome", but she added Ireland "isn't quite there yet".

"We're delighted to see so many of the women we've worked with up on the posters and obviously we'd love to think we've played a part in it.

"It is a positive story, but it's not positive enough yet. Our experience tells us that it is mainly an issue of confidence for women who are considering putting themselves forward into politics.

"We think and we hope it's changing, but it's not quite there yet."

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