Paving the way for women TDs

Longford Women's Link (LWL) in association with the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) will convene a special meeting on Thursday, February 17 next at Teallach Iosa Family Centre, St Mel's Road, Longford to address women's issues in the run up to what is widely perperceived be one of the most anticipated general elections in the history of the State.

Longford Women's Link (LWL) in association with the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) will convene a special meeting on Thursday, February 17 next at Teallach Iosa Family Centre, St Mel's Road, Longford to address women's issues in the run up to what is widely perperceived be one of the most anticipated general elections in the history of the State.

Susan McKay, Director NWCI will chair the meeting which aims to examine topics such as the under representation of women in Dail Eireann to the roles that women play in politics at local and community level.

"All of the main Irish political parties receive state funding and all claim to be concerned about the fact that less than 14 per cent of TDs are women," explained Ms McKay, adding that it would therefore be expected that those political parties would subsequently "be trying" to rectify the situation, particularly in light of an impending election.

"The reality is truly scandalous. In 74 per cent of constituencies, Fianna Fail is not putting forward any women candidates . The equivalent for Fine Gael is 65 per cent while Labour is 58%."

The NWCI director went on to say that there were six constituencies which would not be providing the electorate with a woman candidate at all and she said that the 31st Dail was now appearing as gender imbalanced as the previous Dail.

"In short, the 31st Dail looks like being as imbalanced as the unlamented last one," she said. "Women are 50 percent of the population and it is for these reasons that the National Women's Council and Longford Women's Link are joining forces for a meeting where the question of how women can get into political power will be discussed, seriously and purposefully, by women who really do want change."

Speakers on the day will range acrossthe parties including Susan O'Keeffe, Labour's candidate for Sligo-North Leitrim; Senator Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy, Fine Gael's candidate for Laois Offaly and Roscommon Fianna Fail Councillor Rachel Doherty, daughter of the late Sean Doherty.

"It is too late for us to change the system for this election, but what we must do is make sure that we learn our lessons," concluded Ms McKay.

The meeting takes place at 11am on February 17 next. While men and women are welcome to attend, places are limited and only those who have registered in advance will will be admitted.

To register contact Tara Farrell, tarafarrell@longfordwomenslink.org or telephone (043) 3341511.