Sunday 22 April 2018

Ingrid not happy about just one woman in New Ross area

Ingrid O Brien
Ingrid O Brien

Former Labour councillor Ingrid O'Brien (pictured) said it is disgraceful that only one woman candidate is running in the local elections in the New Ross District.

Ms. O'Brien was commenting on figures compiled by Women for Election, an organisation that promotes women in politics.

'It's not good for anybody to have a male dominated council. Women can bring a lot to the table and are more aware of different issues like school crossings,' said the New Ross woman.

She said the political system is out of date and prevents women from entering political life.

'Parties are definitely behind the times and they don't make it easy for female candidates as before they become a candidate at all, they have to be involved in a party.'

Fine Gael candidate Sandra Lacey, who is standing in the Wexford area, said politics is a male-dominated world. 'Women usually get the secretarial role while the man is given the chair. You have to work that bit harder to be seen and heard.'

Sandra, who has been involved behind the scenes in the Fine Gael party for the past 10 years, said she wouldn't have been in favour of a mandatory quota but it worked in Sweden where it was abolished after more women became established in the political system.

Deirdre Wadding of Wexford is one of two People Before Profit candidates standing for election. Her running partner Seamus O'Brien is in New Ross.

She is proud that her party has the highest proportion (40%) of women candidates nationally in the local elections. 'I think it's hugely important to have women on the Council. It's essential that we are involved in decision-making about issues affecting the community,' she said.

Fianna Fáil candidate Barbara Anne Murphy, based in Bunclody, is looking to return to the council after missing out in 2009. 'Being a woman candidate is not an issue – I just happen to be female,' she said.

'It's not an issue I get on the doorstep, though women do see some things different to men.'

'Politics need a gender balance and the only way it will be achieved is through quotas. 'But it is far more important that I am from Bunclody than that I am a woman. 'People from Bunclody want someone to represent them and gender balance is completely irrelevant when it comes down to that,' she said.

Wexford Labour candidate Bernie Mullen said the low representation of women in local politics is one of the reasons she decided to stand.

'A woman's perspective is different to a man's. We can give a different outlook on everything the country has been going through,' said Bernie who recently travelled to Brussels with Women for Election, an organisation campaigning for more women in political life across Europe. I would hate to come across as man-bashing. I have huge support at home from my husband and three sons.'

In the Gorey District, just two female candidates are running in a field of 17 hopefuls.

Mary Farrell from Kilmuckridge is running as an Independent candidate, having initially put her name forward for Fianna Fáil, but then she withdrew her name at the local selection convention, as she was unhappy with how the vote was being run.

This left four men on the Fianna Fáil line up in the Gorey District. 'If a female had been on the ticket for Fianna Fáil, I would have been delighted, but it just didn't work out that way,' said party candidate Pip Breen. 'The Council will be a better place with balance.'

Fine Gael is putting forward five candidates in Gorey, and Aine Lacy O'Meara is the only woman amongst them.

'The fact there are two women running in Gorey has been welcomed very much by the electorate, both by male and female voters,' she said. 'Yes, it would have been nice to see more women enter the race, but from a Fine Gael point of view, we are delighted to be running one female candidate in every district in Wexford. While we would have like to have seen more, this is a positive step,' she said. 'I suppose traditionally, it's one of those male dominated areas, but I would like to see that turned around.'

'People say women do make good politicians, and there is respect for female candidates,' she added. 'I don't know why there aren't more out there, but I would like to see it change.'

New Ross Standard