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Family portrait puts women on frontline for Kenny campaign

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny is keeping his enemies close but his women candidates closer.

The man who is lining up to be the next Taoiseach knows just how important the female touch is.

In the group 'family portrait' taken at Dublin's Mansion House, the female contingent circled around the leader -- fully aware of the power of the female vote.

Fine Gael are pushing a total of 16 women candidates, six of these within the Dublin region.

Although Fine Gael has developed a strategy to recruit more female members and candidates, the number of women running for the Dail is still just 15.5pc of the overall figure of 102 candidates.

The party's policy has been to increase the number of female members and locate women who are interested in running for election, and Fine Gael said that it has been actively identifying women who are already involved in the party and encouraging them to reach a higher level in the organisation.

Mr Kenny said that his party had more women running than in the 2007 General Election.


"We're very happy about that. Obviously, we want to see as many as possible," he said.

But Fine Gael actually has relatively fewer women running in this election compared to four years ago, when 15 out of its 92 candidates were female -- a 16.3pc representation.

The most likely Dublin successes are expected in Dun Laoghaire, with Cllr Mary Mitchell-O'Connor, and Dublin South Central, with deputy Catherine Byrne, who both nudged up beside the party leader for the photograph, along with Fidelma Healy Eames of Galway West and Marcella Corcoran of Laois-Offaly.

Other strong contenders from the capital Lucinda Creighton and Olivia Mitchell are also expected to retain their seats in the election.

Although all parties promised to increase the number of women running for election, they make up just 15pc of all candidates lined up so far.

The Labour Party has the highest number of women looking for a seat followed by Fine Gael -- Fianna Fail have just nine.

Sinn Fein and the United Left Alliance both count five female candidates each, while there are four female Independent candidates and just three female Greens.

There are 23 women currently in Dail Eireann, which equates to just 13.85pc of seats.

Six of these women are retiring from politics, including former Health Minister Mary Harney, Fianna Fail TD Beverley Flynn, and Fine Gael Laois-Offaly TD Olwyn Enright. University College Cork (UCC) lecturer Fiona Buckley listed a total of five "Cs" which outline why so few women were in politics: childcare, cash, confidence, culture and candidate selection.