independent

Friday 15 December 2017

Three female candidates declared as the gender debate rumbles on

While it remains to be seen whether or not a General Election will be called before the end of the year, many are eager to find out how many female candidates will be vying to represent the Wicklow-East Carlow constituency.

To date just three female candidates have been officially declared their intentions to run: Anne Ferris, sitting Labour Party TD, and first time General Election candidates Anna Doyle and Sharon Briggs, both of People Before Profit (PBP).

According to Ms Doyle, PBP never encountered any difficulty when seeking female candidates.

'Traditionally politics is male dominated both in the Dáil and Wicklow County Council. The population is fifty-fifty and so should political representaion. We have never had any problems in getting women involved because we support so many issues and campaigns that affect women and are important to them, for example SPARK,' she said.

This will be Ms Doyle's first foray into politics at a national level and the Ashford woman said she is already on the doorsteps.

'I ran in the local elections to create awareness about People Before Profit. It was never expected that I would be elected but we succeeded in getting the party expanded across the county. This is a full time, unpaid job and we never stop, whether it is in relation to Right2Water or Wicklow Meter Watch,' she adds.

Fellow PBP candidate Sharon Briggs is also hoping to improve on her local election performance which saw her lose out on a seat by a handful of votes.

A member since 2012 Ms Briggs is opposed to all austerity measures and has been involved in a number of national and local campaigns including against water charges.

The only female Wicklow TD seeking re-election this time around is Deputy Anne Ferris of Labour who was elected in 2011, having been a member of Wicklow County Council from 2003 to 2009 and on the former Bray Town Council from 1999 to 2009.

Deputy Ferris' election marked the first Wicklow female TD to sit in Dáil Éireann since Mildred Fox who held a seat from 1995 to 2007.

According to Women for Election, there have only been four female woman elected from Wicklow since the 1918 elections.

More worryingly, the county comes in at the top of the national scale (outside of Dublin) for its record in electing women, despite this shockingly low figure.

Gemma Hussey was elected in 1982 and held a seat until 1989 while Liz McManus, who preceeded Deputy Ferris, was elected in 1992 and retired from politics in 2011.

While not formally selected, sources say that Greystones woman Jennifer Cuffe is tipped to for a place on the Fianna Fáíl party ticket which holds it convention this evening.

A qualified barrister, she is also a sitting member of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council. Cllr Cuffe is the only Fianna Fáil member from the North of the county seeking to run and it is believed that the party is keen on her inclusion.

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