Bertie Ahern: Gender quota system is 'mad'

Former Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern has labelled the gender quota system "mad".

His comments come after Fianna Fáil Councillor Daithí de Róiste was told his name cannot be considered by members to contest the General Election because of his party's struggle to meet gender quotas.

Instead, Catherine Ardagh is the sole Fianna Fáil candidate in the Dublin South Central constituency.

Bertie Ahern said that basing the decision on who gets to contest a seat on gender is not acceptable.

"Mad, I think the idea that a person who works his way through the system, who works their way through their branch, their Cumann , or organisation, gets themselves popular with the public, with the local organisations, then comes to the convention of their party and saying: 'Yes, you have done a very good job for the last 10 years, breaking your neck in your community … but you happen to be the wrong gender, so go away," he said.

Daithí de Róiste said that he agrees with Ahern's assessment.

"I'd have to agree with the former Taoiseach - it is mad," he said.

"What you have now is, are we really giving a rise now to say discrimination leads rights to more discrimination - that doesn't solve any problems.

"Essentially the former Taoiseach is right when he classifies something like this as mad, for the simple reason it's not serving a purpose."

Suzanne Collins of Women for Election says there is widespread support for sometimes preferring women over men.

“The legislation for gender quotas for selection was proposed by an all-male, or a male-dominated Cabinet, and it was voted through by a male-dominated Dáil,” she said.

“So there are obviously men, and men in power, who want to see more women in politics.”

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said that the party has to meet the 30% gender requirement in the General Election.

"That was deemed to be the right thing to do by all parties when it was introduced by the Government," he said.

"It has posed an enormous challenge for us because of the terrible base that we're coming from with no female TDs.

"It is very unsatisfactory it has come down to a situation where individuals are not being allowed to go before convention.

"It is, unfortunately, the work out of that national policy at individual constituency level, and I don't blame people for being very sore about it."


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