Galway’s dismal record in electing only two woman to Dáil Éireann since the foundation of the State, has prompted Women for Election to call on voters in all three Galway constituencies to support female candidates this time around.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, a TD in Galway West from the 1970s to the 1990s, and Brigid Hogan-O’Higgins a Galway East TD in the 1960s, remain the only two women to have served the county in the Dáil. With Election 2016 taking place on February 26, the prospects of any of the three Galway constituencies returning a female TD remain slim.
Female candidates are Hildegarde Naughton, Mary Hoade, Catherine Connolly, Fidelma Healy-Eames, and Nicola Daveron, (Galway West ); Anne Rabbitte, Annemarie Roche, Lorraine Higgins, Mairead Ní Chroinín (Galway East ); and Maura Hopkins, Claire Kerrane, Anne Farrell, and Miriam Hennessy (Roscommon-Galway ). Gender quotas have forced the parties to add women to election tickets, but many feel female candidates were added cynically, only to avoid fines.
Independent Left councillor Catherine Connolly looks set to challenge for the final seat in Galway West. However last week’s Galway Advertiser opinion poll showed her losing out to Labour’s Derek Nolan, the latter being elected off transfers from FG’s Sen Hildegarde Naughton. Apart from her, the general view is that Galway will continue to resist having a female TD.
As a result, Women for Election’s director of operations and campaigns Suzanne Collins is calling on “as many men and women as possible” to get out “on the campaign trail to support and elect women”.
“Voters in Galway have an unprecedented level of choice and an unprecedented opportunity to make history in this election. Everyone has their part to play,” she said. “Female candidates will not get elected without practical help and support. Anyone who wants to see a more balanced representation in our national parliament to get involved, find a woman who reflects their views, values and politics and help to them get elected.”
She is also calling for supporters to tag their social media with #electwomen.