The move to threaten parties with a 50pc cut in their state funding if 30pc of their general-election candidates aren't female is, in my view, a regressive step. To the best of my knowledge, both Fine Gael and Labour now have democratic, one-member one-vote, selection conventions, while Fianna Fail looks set to implement a similar regime.
This proposal will force party HQs to tinker with and quite possibly overrule democratic decisions taken by selection conventions if the required number of female candidates isn't reached.
The most likely result of such action is that any woman added to a ticket in such a fashion is most unlikely to be elected given the likely hostile local reaction to their candidacy -- all Irish politics are local, after all.
It's pretty clear that the problem is not that women are being prevented from participating, but rather that they are choosing not to participate. That is the problem that needs to be addressed, and the Government has chosen not to address it and instead adopted a policy that can't but damage mainstream grassroots democracy.
Green Road, Carlow