27.5% of council seats are held by women - will this election increase that?

28 of the 90 candidates, 31%, are female

Conor McHugh

Reporter:

Conor McHugh

Email:

conor@leinsterleader.ie

27.5% of council seats are held by women - will this election increase that?

The women who were elected at the 2014 local elections

There are currently 11 women on Kildare County Council, making up 27.5% of the 40 seats.

They come from most parties and none, and while arguably it is a low percentage relative to the fact that there are slightly more women than men living in Kildare, it is still more than ever before.

In fact, the 2014 local elections were particularly successful for women, relative to previous elections.

Fianna Fail has three out of 12, or 25% women, namely Deborah Callaghan, Suzanne Doyle and Carmel Kelly.

None of Fine Gael’s eight councillors are women, although at the last election,  Fiona McLoughlin Healy was elected for that party. She left in 2018.

Two fifths of Labour’s councillors are women, Aoife Breslin and Anne Breen.

Only a third of Sinn Fein’s elected members is female, Reada Cronin, although two other councillors, Sorcha O’Neill  and Ide Cussen were elected for the party before leaving in latter years.

However, women make up almost half, five out of twelve, of the independents in the council; Ide Cussen, Fiona McLoughlin Healy, Teresa Murray, Sorcha O’Neill and Joanne Pender.

Naas Municipal District has the greatest number of female councillors with four out of nine, while Newbridge/Kildare has three out of nine, Maynooth has two out of nine. Leixlip/Celbridge has only one out of seven and Athy has one out of six.

So, will the next election see an improvement on 27.5%? Can some of the parties and Municipal Districts return more women than before?

In truth it’s a mixed bag. Out of 90 candidates, there are 28 females, which is 31%, although if all of them got elected, they would be 70% of the new council!

First and foremost all but two of the sitting female county councillors, Deborah Callaghan and Joanne Pender, are contesting the forthcoming election. By virtue of being incumbents they have a better chance than candidates who are unelected, of getting back in.

So the chances of almost getting 9 out of the 40, or 22%, are decent enough.

Of all candidates, Fianna Fail and Labour have six, Fine Gael have five, Sinn Fein, Social Democrats, and Greens all have two each.

Aontú and Solidarity/People Before Profit have one each.

Three independent candidates are women, while Renua’s sole candidate is male.

In the Athy local electoral area, with five seats on offer, four of the 10 candidates are female.

In Celbridge, there are four seats on offer, and three of the 11 candidates are women.

Clane is rather unusual given that of the 12 candidates, only one is female. There are five seats there.

Kildare has eight candidates, half of whom are female and with five seats on offer, at least one of the four women must get elected.

In Leixlip, there are 10 candidates, but in a stroke of neat symmetry, there are both three seats on offer and three female candidates.

In Maynooth, with nine candidates, and five seats on offer, it is mathematically possible that no women will be returned there, albeit unlikely given that two of the women are sitting councillors.

One third (five) of Naas’s 15 candidates are female, with seven seats on offer.

The same applies in Newbridge although there are only six seats on offer.

Unlike at national/general election level, there are no quotas for female candidates at council levels, although the government will give parties additional funding to hire a diversity and equality officer if they run at least 30% female candidates in the locals.

It’s seen as a way to incentivise rather than mandate a quota which, while very effective, are perceived as being divisive.

For the best coverage of the elections 2019 in Kildare, click here.