Taoiseach searching for 15 females to meet gender quota
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny needs to find 15 women to run as candidates in the next general election for Fine Gael to meet new gender quotas.
Fine Gael's male senators are suddenly realising there will be little or no room for them on the party ticket.
Party bosses say if all the sitting TDs run again, the party will need to run at least another 15 women to meet the new 30pc gender quota.
Under laws brought in by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, three out of 10 of a party's candidates have to be women.
Failure to reach the quota means the party loses half of its funding from the taxpayer, effectively giving away millions of euro.
The party has 11 female TDs out of a total of 73 deputies, not including the seats won by now Independent Denis Naughten, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett and the late junior minister Shane McEntee.
Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran told TDs and senators last week that if all 73 TDs ran again, the party would have to run a minimum of 88 candidates to meet the quota – and the 15 new candidates would all have to be women.
Once the party went above 88 candidates, a few men could be added – but only on a ratio of two men to one woman.
Mr Curran's briefing focused the minds of male senators, in particular, who realised they faced an enormous challenge to get on to the ticket.
"He disappointed a couple of people the other night alright. It was the subject of discussions in the bar and restaurant afterwards," a source said.
Fine Gael is taking the gender quotas very seriously.
The party has hired outside consultants, from a company called Equality Strategies, to advise it on how to change its structures.
"For us, it is not about identifying candidates. It is about changing the entire party," a source said.