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Samantha may well have the last laugh as Enda struggles with gender quotas

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Samantha Long

Samantha Long

Samantha Long

Somewhere Samantha Long must be fuming. The FG member was overlooked for a Seanad nomination that was controversially secured by John McNulty last September. She eventually resigned in protest at the party's failure to put forward a woman candidate.

But this week it was revealed that the Taoiseach Enda Kenny is struggling to find enough female candidates to run in the next general election and meet the gender quotas that his very own Government introduced.

Women have to make up at least 30pc of every party's general election ticket to avoid losing half their State funding and the party is about seven or eight candidates short.

It's deeply disappointing now to hear that Enda simply can't get his hands on enough women to run. The problem isn't that they're not there. But rather those structural inequalities that keep them from running - culture, childcare and confidence - are still there.

PROBLEM

It seems obvious to me, that rather than scouring the ditches looking for women to run, that the Government should have looked at the things that prevent women from running in the first place.

Why bother setting targets when you don't actually tackle the root of the problem?

How can you possibly take up a career in politics, even if you wanted to, if you mind children and there's no plan on offer from this Government to help you with this, even in the form of a tax break?

Wherever quotas have been used they've spawned resentment. Jealousy amongst colleagues who didn't get the job and feel they were better qualified. Like social welfare, there will always those who abuse the system.

But we need quotas. We need women in politics. But there's no point in setting targets for the former if the Government can't come up with a plan to get the latter out of the starting blocks.


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