Women in the cabinet, in the 31st Dáil and election candidate ratio
There are fewer women now in cabinet than there has been since 2004. Of course, when it’s a matter of either two or three out of fifteen, it’s a big proportionate difference. With Joan Burton as Minister for Social Protection and Frances Fitzgerald as Minister for Children, there is the unfortunate impression that they got soft female-friendly positions. There had been widespread assumption that Joan Burton, having been Labour Spokesperson on Finance, could expect the position of Public Expenditure and Reform, which went to Brendan Howlin. That decision rests with Eamon Gilmore, as the leaders of parties within a coalition is usually given free rein as to the distribution of personnel within the departments they have received.
At cabinet level, parties should of course focus on picking their best TDs for the job, regardless of other factors. They also seemed to ignore geography as a major factor, with a high concentration from both parties of Dublin TDs in cabinet. But this is not to say that some others of women mentioned like Róisín Shortall or Jan O’Sullivan wouldn’t be as good as one Labour’s former leaders.
Of course, we should recognise the first female Attorney General in Máire Whelan.
The proportion of women in the 31st Dáil is up marginally on the last Dáil. There has been only marginal change in the proportion of female representation in Ireland, and in any analysis it is our position relative to the rest of the world, not an absolute proportion that is worth considering.
There are 25 women in the current Dáil, including 11 of Fine Gael’s 76 TDs, 8 of Labour’s 37 TDs, 2 of Sinn Féin’s 14 TDs, 2 of the 5 United Left Alliance TDs and 2 of the 14 Independent TDs. Significantly, no women were elected for Fianna Fáil.
- Joan Burton, Labour, Dublin West
- Catherine Byrne, Fine Gael, Dublin South-Central
- Áine Collins, Fine Gael, Cork North-West
- Joan Collins, United Left Alliance/People Before Profit, Dublin South-Central
- Ciara Conway, Labour, Waterford
- Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Fine Gael, Laois–Offaly
- Lucinda Creighton, Fine Gael, Dublin South-East
- Clare Daly, United Left Alliance/Socialist Party, Dublin North
- Regina Doherty, Fine Gael, Meath East
- Anne Ferris, Labour, Wicklow
- Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael, Dublin Mid-West
- Heather Humphreys, Fine Gael, Cavan–Monaghan
- Kathleen Lynch, Labour, Cork North-Central
- Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin, Dublin Central
- Nicky McFadden, Fine Gael, Longford–Westmeath
- Sandra McLellan, Sinn Féin, Cork East
- Olivia Mitchell, Fine Gael, Dublin South
- Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Fine Gael, Dún Laoghaire
- Michelle Mulherin, Fine Gael, Mayo
- Catherine Murphy, Independent, Kildare North
- Jan O’Sullivan, Labour, Limerick City
- Maureen O’Sullivan, Independent, Dublin Central
- Ann Phelan, Labour, Carlow–Kilkenny
- Róisín Shortall, Labour, Dublin North-West
- Joanna Tuffy, Labour, Dublin Mid-West
- The Programme for Government has proposed linking party funding to a minimum gender balance. Any decision on this needs to be conscious of how parties distributed male and female candidates in this recent election. Such a proposal would not come without difficulty and the ability to find loopholes around, and I don’t think it would tackle the underlying cultural problems. I think if such a proposal is implemented, it should only be at the council level first, as that is the pool for most Dáil candidates. This table shows the male to female ratio by party in each constituency, with instances of winning female candidates in bold. It shows among other things that men are much more likely to stand as no-hope Independents in an ego-boosting exercise, which skews the overall ratio.
|Kerry North–Limerick West||2:0||1:0||1:0||1:0||–||1:0||3:2|
Compiled from Elections Ireland.