A leading Donegal-born barrister says it's time that at least 40 per cent of the seats in every constituency were held by women.

Ahead of Election 2020, Dungloe barrister David Greene has expressed his disappointment that just one female is running out of 12 candidates.

David Greene

Letterkenny activist Mary T Sweeney has been selected by Aontú and, with nominations closing on Wednesday, she is expected to be the only woman on the ballot sheet.

Mr Greene, an Irish-Australian lawyer and political advisor based in Brisbane says that change should start on the ballot:

When the people of Donegal head to their local polling place on 8 February, they will have many issues on their minds. 

They will also have many disappointments to think about, including the lack of progress made on crucial issues facing Donegal since the last General Election in 2016.

For some, one of those disappointments will be the candidates they have to choose from.

So far, twelve candidates have expressed an intention to contest the general election. There is still time for other candidates to emerge, but right now we know who the main party candidates will be.

It is very disappointing that of those twelve candidates, there is only one woman. It is even more disappointing that, despite changes in recent years to encourage parties to select more female candidates, none of the major parties in Donegal have made any effort in that regard.

The reason it is disappointing is not just to do with fuzzy notions of gender parity or equality – worthy as those ideals are. Our democracy can only truly work when all parts of the community are represented and have a true voice.

For the past four years, over 50 per cent of Donegal’s population has not been truly represented in Dáil Éireann, and based on the declared candidates so far, that is a situation likely to repeat itself.

Enhancing democratic representation isn’t the only reason why balance is important – so too is the important role females and minorities can have in shaping policy and outcomes for the whole community.

Ireland – and Donegal – can do better.

Our society would be better if our institutions reflected the community at large. As a minimum first step in achieving this, it is time we moved towards constituency level quotas for female representation. It’s time that at least 40 per cent of the seats in every constituency were held by females. In Donegal’s case that would mean we would send at least two women and three people of either gender to Dáil Éireann.

While that change isn’t on the ballot this time around, it should be. When candidates call to your door over the next few weeks, remember to check their position on real progress towards a more representative Dáil Éireann.