Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Questions (158)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl


158. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in view of his policy of encouraging more women to participate in the political process and local government, the steps being taken by him to encourage greater female participation in the upper echelons of local government administration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42676/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

As indicated in the Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government, Putting People First, it is the intention to encourage the participation of women as elected members in local government. The promotion of gender equality in local government is dealt with at paragraph 11.8 of the Programme.

Part 6 of the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 will require political parties to achieve a gender balance in candidate selection at general elections. This provision links the State funding of political parties to the achievement of a gender balance in candidate selection at Dáil general elections.  In order to receive full State funding, a qualified political party will have to have at least 30% women candidates and at least 30% men candidates at the next general election. Seven years from the next general election, this will rise to 40%.  The new legislative provisions are designed as an incentive mechanism to encourage political parties to apply a more equal gender balance in the selection of candidates.  It is intended that this measure would have a knock-on effect by providing an incentive to political parties voluntarily to apply similar arrangements at local elections.

As regards local government administration, recruitment competitions at senior level are held by the Public Appointments Service in co-operation with my Department and the relevant local authorities, all of whom are committed to the highest standards of customer service and comply with equality and other relevant legislation and codes of practice. Recruitment competitions held at local level adhere to the same high standards particularly in regards to equality legislation and related compliance.