Seanad debates

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Electoral (Amendment)(Political Funding) Bill 2011: Committee Stage (Resumed)


5:00 pm

Photo of Susan O'KeeffeSusan O'Keeffe (Labour)

I thank the Minister for being present again. Nothing succeeds like success. Therefore, if we can achieve the 30% that germ of success will create further success and encourage other women to come forward. The idea of pushing the quota to 40% may make it more like a chore, a task or struggle or something to argue about and therefore take some of the goodness from it. I echo Senator Bacik's reluctance to make it 40%, although I would like that in theory. Women are known for their realism and this is a time they need to be realists and to accept the figure of "at least 30%" is a reasonable objective. There are many people for whom the idea of putting a quota in place is difficult, so that debate must still take place. There are many women around the country who are interested in becoming involved in political and public life, but we will need some time to persuade them to be involved. We must show this works and that it can bring in women in a measured and organised way and in a way that is sustainable for political parties.

I too attended the conference held by the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch. It is clear that finding women candidates will be a greater struggle for some parties. I do not wish to see parties paying penalties, but would prefer to see parties succeeding. If we get at least 30%, we are well on the road to the 40% and, ultimately, to 50-50 by 2020, although that might be slightly further away. That is what I strive for and advocate. Nothing succeeds like success and this legislation, as it is framed, is a realistic and good approach to a difficult issue that will give rise to discussion for many months to come.


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