Cork 5050 Group News

The 5050 Group was formed to campaign for gender parity in Irish politics by the year 2020.  Quite simply, we want 50-50 by 2020. In order to support women candidates running in the Local and European elections in Cork/Ireland South the 5050 Group are organising a

Breakfast meeting in the City Hall in Cork on Friday 2nd May at 9am.

In 2012 the Government legislated for candidate selection gender quotas in general elections. This was in recognition of the underrepresentation of women in electoral politics and the failure of all political parties to adequately deal with the underrepresentation of women candidates on the ballot paper. Women are half the population of Ireland but six out of seven of Irish politicians are men. To date (9/4/2014) the number of women candidates declared to contest the Local Elections 2014 are as follows. (Adrian Kavanagh Blog, NUIM, 2014)

  • 107 female Fine Gael candidates – 22.9% of the total number
  • 69 female Fianna Fail candidates – 16.7% of the total number
  • 54 female Labour Party candidates – 29.2% of the total number
  • 59 female Sinn Fein candidates – 31.2% of the total number
  • 11 female Green Party candidates – 30.6% of the total number
  • 15 female Anti Austerity Alliance candidates – 34.1% of the total number
  • 18 female People Before Profit candidates – 40.0% of the total number
  • female Workers and Unemployed Action Group candidates - 66.7% of the total number
  • 1 female Eirigi candidate - 16.7% of the total number
  • 1 female United Left candidate - 16.7% of the total number
  • 1 female Workers Party candidate - 10.0% of the total number
  • 2 female Direct Democracy Ireland candidates - 28.6% of the total number
  • 62 female non-party/independent candidates – 17.9% of the total number. Within this grouping there are The Independents Network candidates (12.0% of the total) and female People’s Convention candidates/People’s Candidates (23.8% of the total number).

In the 2009 local elections  Blarney, Macroom, Skibbereen, Cork City North East and Cork City North West did not have any women candidates. Thankfully in 2014 all these areas have fielded women candidates. However some parties will still struggle at the next general election to comply with the 30 percent quota.



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Cake, Song and Chat With Women Candidates For Local Elections 2014

Last Saturday 5th April from 10.30am to 12pm in the Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan, Monaghan 5050 Group and Monaghan Women’s Group fed, entertained and hopefully, informed all those present. 

In advance of the local and European elections they held an informal meeting with refreshments and entertainment laid on. 

They gave:

  • the opportunity to meet the female candidates for the local elections
  • a handy manifesto list of questions that can be asked of candidates that come to canvass. (NCCWN manifesto bookmark)
  • and the opportunity to network, have your voice heard on issues that concern you.

 Women need to have their voices heard . . . . . 

The Monaghan Women’s Group and Monaghan 5050

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News Roundup

Here is some intersteing activity from the 5050 group.

Our brilliant cartoonist Danielle Bonner came up with these to help change the culture that politics is for men only.



what do you think




photo (18)

photo (3)

need more women

what do you think

voting at door


They are a fun way of getting the message across that women are half the population and should be half the representation.

Our Chairwoman Noirin was featured in the Sligo Champion – great photo Noirin!

There was also a report issued from the Inter Parliamentary Union which acknowledges how gender parity is achievable within twenty years if present progress is continued.

Unfortunately Fianna Fail don’t seem to have felt the winds of change and relegated their discussion on gender parity to the margins.

We in Cork 5050 are very excited about our Breakfast meeting on the Friday 2nd May in Cork City Hall. We are delighted that Minister Kathleen Lynch has agreed to attend. More news on that shortly…



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Question to Enda Kenny

Louise Riordan Chairwoman of Dublin 5050 got to ask Enda Kenny a question in Saturday’s Irish Times (01/03/2014). Her question was:

“Why do you believe we haven’t had a female Taoiseach since the foundation of the State?”

“There’s no reason why not. Since the early days we’ve had Countess Markievicz, we’ve had the first woman to serve as a cabinet minister, we have the first woman to serve as a senior Government Minister dealing with children, we’ve had two women presidents, the Attorney General is a woman, our Chief Justice is a woman. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have a female taoiseach. Its a matter for the people to decide that choice when they get the chance. We’ve set targets for all the major parties for the next general election, and they’ll be fined heavily if they don’t measure up. I don’t particularly like gender quotas, but I do like to see more and more women involved in politics. After all, they make up half the population of our country”

…..Did he sidestep the question?

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Women in Politics – Situation in the North West

Will the local elections in May result in more women sitting in our councils around the North West?  So far:

  • In Sligo of the 31 candidates 24 are men and 7 are women.
  • In Leitrim of the 24 candidates 19 are men and 5 are women.
  • In Donegal of the 43 candidates there are 37 men and 6 women

The 5050 Group is campaigning to encourage and support more women in politics and public life. The new gender quota legislation, which will ensure more women candidates, does not take effect until the next general election. However the impact of the legislation is beginning to be felt – in some areas.  Across the country so far, 23% of all local election candidates are women; this compares with 17% five years ago in 2009.

We have become used to the majority of our public representatives being men. Currently, men account for 84% of all our elected representatives! One imagines there would be outrage if men were as poorly represented in our council chambers.

The 5050 Group plans to observe the progress of the local elections as political parties and independents gear up for the campaign trail and the elections in May and to encourage and support the election of women.

“One certain way to improve the number of women in our council chambers is for every voter to consider all the candidates carefully and to think about the lack of equality in our political process. Just over 50% of the population are women; that figure should be echoed in our political system, said Nóirín Clancy of 5050 North West.

In Sligo it is very disappointing how few women the main parties have selected. With two Fine Gael women Councillors resigning one would have expected the party would at least try to maintain their female numbers; however, Sinead Maguire is their only woman candidate.  Likewise, Fianna Fail and Labour have their two incumbents, Rosaleen O’Grady and Marcella McGarry running again.   It is interesting to note of the six independents, four are woman and it is positive to see two newcomers with Marie Casserley and Mary Tuffy.

The picture in Leitrim and Donegal is no different.  In the Donegal electoral area, out of six candidates, just one female candidate, Niamh Kennedy, is running as an Independent, Fianna  Fail and Labour have still to make their selections in this area. Hopefully, Fianna Fail will replicate the gender balance achieved in the Inishowen electoral area where they’ve selected two women (incumbent Rena Donaghey and newcomer, Mary McCauley) and two men. In the remaining four electoral areas where they’ve yet to hold conventions it will be interesting to see if we see such ideal outcomes.

In Leitrim, no big changes with a predominantly male line up.  In North Leitrim, Mary Bohan and Siobhan McGloin are running to hold on to their seats and just two new women – Fine Gael’s, Siobhan Finnegan McElgunn and Sinn Fein’s Maureen Martin will run in the south of the county.

While nationally there is an increase in the number of female candidates in this year’s local elections, an interesting geographical dimension is emerging.  Adrian Kavanagh, NUI Maynooth who maintains a blog listing all candidates, highlights that in the more urban constituencies female candidates account for 29% but only 18.2% in the more rural constituencies. Quotas are part of the solution but it is evident that much more is required to transform the male dominated political system.  More women need to make the leap from the community to the political arena.  Political parties need to examine more closely what is stopping women coming forward and getting selected and use their power to start making politics more women and family friendly.




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Casting Feminism Aside – Not Just Yet!

This is a letter that I penned to the Cork Independent published today. It was in response to an article written in the previous week’s edition. This article reckoned that Feminism was no longer necessary.

Dear Editor,

I was prepared to have my blood boil by Sandra Murphy’s article (20/2/2014) casting Feminism Aside. However I thought rather than quietly fuming I would put pen to paper and caution ‘not just yet’ Feminism does get bad press because it tends to conjure up a shrill unattractive woman – believe it or not men can be feminists as well. Feminism actually means equality between the sexes. It means that women should have the same rights and responsibilities as men and vice versa. Now who can argue with that? However what Sandra seems to be arguing is that she will take the rights – to own her own business, to borrow money without her husband’s permission, to continue in paid employment if she so chooses but she wants someone else to be responsible for her welfare. My advice – be careful what you wish for.

We in the 5050 Group are a group of volunteers promoting 50:50 representation in politics. Women are half the population and therefore in a properly functioning democracy we should be half the representation. However for every six politicians in this state five of them are men. That is simply unfair and is unrepresentative. Women have different experiences to men and therefore as women we need to be at the decision making table. Our children and our grandchildren’s lives will be affected by the political decisions that are being made today.

In the upcoming local and european elections I would urge people to consider becoming active in canvassing for women candidates. Find a woman candidate that represents your politics and help them to get elected. Since 1992 the percentage of women elected to the Dail has gone from 12 to 16. We have had the equality rhetoric now we want action. The political parties have been forced to field more women candidates with the introduction of candidate selection gender quotas for the next general election.

The argument goes that politics is a man’s world and that women do not want to be politicians. Rather like Sandra’s argument that women ‘want’ to be minded. As adults we all need care and we all need those who will look out for us in times of trouble. However that does not mean that we should be content with others in the decision making role or that it is unfeminine to want to take responsibility for our own destiny. Women face particular barriers when it comes to competing in the political world namely childcare, culture, confidence and cash. The gendered nature of childcare is evidenced in the 2011 Census with 500,000 women working in the home versus 9,600 men. Childcare is not a 9-5 occupation its 24/7.

Some men will be displaced by the increased participation of women, so it is not surprising that some will get upset. Indeed it seems women like Betty want to see the status quo remain. However some men are supportive and indeed are prepared to step aside because they accept the justice argument. Others like the system the way it is. Gender is a significant category when it comes to representation. Women are half the population. In a properly functioning democracy women should be half the representation. The road to 50:50 is still a long way off so when Sandra wants to cast feminism aside I say wait until we have 50:50.


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Response to Barry Walsh’s letter to Irish Times

This letter appeared in the Irish Times in early February as a response to Noirin’s letter.
Sir, –
Noirín Clancy, chair of the “5050 Group”, points out that just 25 per cent of all local election candidates are women and blames political party selection conventions which she says “will tend to favour tried and tested [male] incumbent candidates rather than the new [female] candidate” (Letters, February 3rd). Ms Clancy seems to have based this view on an assumption rather than on actual evidence.

First, Dr Adrian Kavanagh of NUI Maynooth maintains an interesting website that lists the candidates being put forward by each of the political parties. It shows that Fine Gael, by far the largest party with the most male incumbents, has nominated at least one female candidate in 68 of the 120 electoral areas in which they have held selection candidates so far (57 per cent). This does not suggest female candidates are being shafted wholesale at local level; it suggests quite the contrary. Local media coverage of selection conventions being held across the country, of which Ms Clancy’s group ought surely be aware, shows that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are actively seeking female candidates and that any woman who is willing to run for either party would be welcomed with open arms, not snubbed.

Second, if Ms Clancy’s claim is accurate then surely it would further manifest itself in a much higher ratio of women among Independent and non-party candidates, where no such party political barriers exist. However, according to Dr Kavanagh just 25 per cent of Independent candidates are women, which is only marginally ahead of Fine Gael but significantly behind the Labour Party which is at 32 per cent. Clearly, if women are not running as Independents in any greater numbers than as members of political parties, then local selection conventions cannot be having the negative impact which Ms Clancy alleges.

The fact is that women are far more reluctant than men to express an interest in running for election, either as members of a political party or as Independents, due to a range of deep-seated reasons surrounding the culture of Irish politics and the workload that comes with being an elected representative.

These problems will not be solved in quick-fix fashion by crass gender quotas imposed across the board, but by directly addressing these underlying factors. The sooner that feminist organisations abandon this obsession with quotas, and focus on more worthwhile solutions, the better for all women. – Yours, etc,


Mr Walsh makes three points.

1. That Candidate selection gender quotas were unnecessary because progress could have been made without them. Evidence for this does not support his argument. Equality rhetoric and voluntary quotas have not worked. Since 1992 the percentage of women elected to the Dail has gone from 12 to 16. He argues that incumbent men are only too delighted to stand aside in order to have gender balance on the ballot paper. I have heard two displaced male candidates complaining on the radio in recent weeks. No doubt there are plenty more. Women are half the population, 5 out of 6 politicians are men, this is simply unfair.

2. That candidate selection is the only barrier that women face in getting elected because women can run as independents. This ignores the other barriers that women face namely childcare, culture, confidence and cash. The gendered nature of childcare is evidenced in the 2011 Census with 500,000 women working in the home versus 9,600 men. Childcare is not a 9-5 occupation its 24/7.

3. That politics is a man’s game designed to suit men – so get over it. As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Ireland is obliged to at least make some efforts to redress the imbalance in Irish politics. Women are half the population we should be half the representation.

Some men will be displaced by the increased participation of women, so it is not surprising that some will get upset. However some men are supportive and indeed are prepared to step aside because they accept the justice argument. Others like the system the way it is. Gender is a significant category when it comes to representation. Women are half the population. In a properly functioning democracy women should be half the representation.

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Letter to Irish Times published recently

Sir, – Anne Lucey highlighted the abysmal statistics regarding women candidates in the forthcoming local elections (Home News, January 24th).

Currently just 25 per cent of all local election candidates are women. While this figure is low, it does at least represent an increase on the last local elections. In 2009, only 17 per cent of the candidates were women. Interestingly, on that occasion, 17 per cent of council seats were won by women, clearly indicating that there was no electoral bias against women – when women get on the ballot paper they will get elected. However, the problem is that not enough women are appearing on the election ballot papers. While there are many factors inhibiting women’s participation in politics, a key stumbling block is how candidates are selected. At selection conventions, party delegates will tend to favour the “tried and tested” incumbent candidates rather than the “new” candidate. Incumbents are typically men meaning it is more difficult for “new” women candidates to get selected.

The 5050 Group is campaigning for more equal representation in Irish politics, part of which is challenging political parties to effectively implement the gender quota legislation.

It is not too late for some political parties to take directive action and get more women selected. Otherwise, it will cost them in the long run. At the next general election parties will lose half their State funding if they don’t comply with the gender quota legislation which will compel them to have at least 30 per cent women candidates. For many women and men, becoming a councillor is the first “stepping-stone” to a seat in the Dáil. It makes sense for all parties to pull out all the stops now and get more women on the ticket for May’s local elections.

We need more women in politics: parties can make this happen with two vital ingredients – political will and leadership. – Yours, etc,


National Chair,

5050 Group,

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Cork Event City Hall Friday 25th April 2014

Calling all women candidates for the Local City, County and European elections. Cork 5050 group is hosting a ‘meet the women candidates’ breakfast event in the City Hall on Friday 25th April 2014 at 9am. We are delighted that the Lord Mayor Councillor Catherine Clancy has made the Chamber available to the group.

In Ireland women are half the population but 5 out of 6 of our politicians are men. This is unfair and needs to be addressed. Political parties are endeavoring to field more women candidates. This is in order that they comply with the candidate selection gender quotas  legislation which will apply at the next general election.

Some of the women candidates are running for the first time and are looking for your support. Cork 5050 is asking the electorate to consider voting for them.

All political parties are invited and we hope to have as many women candidates present. Support from the leadership would be appreciated.

Adrian Kavanagh’s blog from NUI Maynooth has a very up to date list of women candidates in all areas and can be accessed here.

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Donegal Meeting Great Success

Women politicians-  tell it like it is at 5050 North West event in Letterkenny,                                                                      15th November 2013.Photo 1 (1) Photo 2 (1) Photo 3 Photo 4

By Julie Costello

Donegal women interested in entering politics but not sure they know enough to do so received a memorable piece of advice from Senator Susan O’Keeffe in Letterkenny last week: “Fake it ‘til you make it”.

She explained, “Women are very conscientious, which is one of our great strengths, but there has to be a time to learn on the job and not worry about knowing everything. If you believe enough, you don’t have to know everything. There are people who will help if you are able and willing.”

The advice was one of a number of tips by women politicians from across the political spectrum at a “Meet and Chat with Your Female Politicians” event organised by the 5050 North West Group with assistance from NCCWN-Donegal Women’s Network and the North Leitrim Women’s Centre. The Group is part of a national 5050 campaign which is working to achieve equal numbers of men and women in politics.

5050 is about changing the balance, to say there is a role in politics for women,” said Senator O’Keeffe (Labour), a founder member of 5050 North West and who has been a strong supporter of the 5050 campaign. “If we don’t step up, no one’s going to ask us.”

Additional women politicians at the event included former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan (Fianna Fáil); Marian Harkin MEP (Independent); Donegal County Councillors Rena Donaghey (Fianna Fáil), Cora Harvey (Sinn Féin), and Marie Therese Gallagher (Sinn Féin); former Donegal County Cllr. Maureen Doohan (Fine Gael); and former European Elections candidate Marie Hainsworth (Independent).

The event, which took place at the Cheshire Apartments featured roundtable discussions by the politicians with the approximately 35 women in attendance. Discussions centred on ways of overcoming the challenges women face in achieving political representation equivalent to the 50 percent that they represent in the population.

To date, women have never comprised more than 16 percent of TDs in the Dáil, a rate which places Ireland 25th out of the 28 EU countries in terms of female political participation. A new Irish Electoral Reform Act designed to increase the rate will see political parties losing half of their Exchequer funding if women do not account for at least 30 percent of their candidates at the next General Election.

One challenge discussed during the 5050 event was the need for women politicians to develop extensive support networks due to the unlikelihood of their having spouses who play the traditional “wife” role in the home.

“You need the encouragement of family and friends and people like that to support you” and provide “practical help”, former Tánaiste Coughlan said, adding that it was not unheard of for political meetings to “start at 11 and go on for three days because the boys have nothing else to do”. That said, she continued, “Politics is a great career. You meet a lot of people. It has its downsides, but it’s a unique career.”

Another challenge discussed was the adversarial nature of the overwhelmingly male political environment and the notion of politics as being a “blood sport”. The importance of developing a thick skin was mentioned as a coping strategy by a number of the women politicians, who expressed confidence that the environment will change as more women enter politics.

Cllr. Gallagher said her coping strategy is to remain as disciplined as possible in her focus. “I accept the argy-bargy for what it is: time wasting,” she said. “Egos and personal point scoring don’t do anything to enhance the lives of the people of Donegal, though it might get a headline. I would focus mostly on policy-making; if you don’t focus you can get dragged into a lot of rubbish.”

One challenge that there’s no avoiding, the women politicians said, is the sacrifice of personal time, energy, and attention involved in becoming a public figure, a.k.a. “public property”.

“I enjoyed my time in politics, but I paid a price,” said former Cllr. Doohan, who became the first woman mayor of Donegal during her 14 years on the Council. “If you put yourself forward into public life you will pay a price, whether in your relationship with your husband or your children.”

The financial end of entering politics is also a challenge, but one that can be overcome to some extent if you’re creative, according to MEP Harkin. “You need some money to run a campaign, but less than people tell you,” she said. “You can cut corners. Don’t believe you have to put up posters everywhere. Personal contact, talking to people, is important, if not by you then by good canvassers, so it’s important that canvassers know what you stand for and that you provide good training for them so they do.”

Participants at the event included a number of women who are interested in entering politics.

“I’m running for the Council next year in the Foyle area,” said Mary McCauley of Moville. “This is my first time ever getting involved in politics, so this is a fantastic opportunity to talk with women councillors and see what their experience is.”

“I came because I believe there should be more women involved in politics,” said Donegal Town resident Vivian McIntyre. “I believe it’s very important to have meetings like this and hope there will be more. Maybe sometime I would run for office myself.”

“I’ve been interested in politics and am thinking about running for higher office,” said Niamh Kennedy, who is chairperson of the Killybegs Parish Council. “The event has been great. It opens up your mind when you see everyone else in the same situation.”


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