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NWC welcomes record number of women running in local elections, but says at 31% it is still too low

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2024

The National Women’s Council says quotas are needed to address the democratic deficit

In the run-up to the local elections, the National Women’s Council (NWC) has welcomed the record number of women running at 31%, but says we need much more women on the ballot to achieve 50/50 representation. NWC is calling for the introduction of gender quotas for local election candidates to address this deficit.

We are very disappointed that Fianna Fáil (at 24.4%) and Fine Gael (at 28.6%), as two of the largest parties, have such low rates of women running. The Social Democrats and the Green Party are both running a 50/50 ballot, showing it is possible to do so. We are dismayed that in two constituencies – Moate and An Daingean – there is not one woman on the ballot, and that there is not one Traveller woman running anywhere in the country.

NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:

“It’s disappointing that not even a third of candidates running for local election are women. Gender quotas at local level are the only way to address this democratic deficit. It is also essential to ensure a diverse range of people – from migrant backgrounds, Traveller or Roma backgrounds, the LGBTQI+ community – are represented on the ballot. Local elections are an important pipeline for national elections, and it is crucial that women and marginalised communities start to see themselves fully represented.”

NWC has commissioned research on the challenges and opportunities for women in local politics which builds on our 2019 research ‘Women Beyond the Dáil: More women in local government’.  Preliminary results of a survey with women councillors point to abuse and harassment; low pay; care responsibilities; and work-life balance as factors which prevent women from seeking re-election.

Claire McGing, researcher, said

“66% of our respondents said they had experienced online abuse, with 65% saying they had also experienced abuse in real life. Alarmingly, 42% had considered leaving office because of this. It also seems that local council work is still considered to be the preserve of those with the advantages of the lowest care load and the most material time and human resources to compensate for its demands. This further suppresses the recruitment and retention of women in all of their diversity to local politics in Ireland.”

NWC today also launched our key asks for feminist local government and is calling on candidates to commit to three priority asks, including:

Deliver public services
Support feminist community development
Demand equality in local institutions



For comment: Orla O’Connor and Claire McGing

See more here: https://www.nwci.ie/discover/what_we_do/key_asks_for_feminist_local_government_2024

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC’s Communications and Social Media Coordinator on sineadn@nwci.ie


Adrian Kavanagh has compiled the statistics on women candidates running by party:

Social Democrats at 50.6% (39 out of 77);
Green Party at 49.6% (64 out of 129);
Sinn Féin at 44.8% (150 out of 335)
Labour at 41.1% (44 out of 107);
People Before Profit-Solidarity at 40% (18 out of 45).
Aontú at 39.4% (26 out of 66);
Fine Gael at 28.6% of female candidates (97 out of 339);
Fianna Fáil at 24.4% (98 out of 365);
Smaller parties at 21.5% (41 females out of 191 total candidates)


Key Asks for Feminist Local Government:

NWC https://www.nwci.ie/discover/what_we_do/key_asks_for_feminist_local_government_2024

'Women beyond the Dáil: More Women in Local: Government: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/_NWCI_Research_Report_WEB.pdf



About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie