Fine Gael have issued a statement about gender balance after they received heavy criticism for the make-up of Leo Varadkar's new Cabinet and junior ministerial ranks.
Of the 34 senior and junior ministers, just seven are women. Offaly TD and former Junior Minister for Health Promotion was one of the female colleagues to be axed by Leo Varadkar in his recent shake-up.
The Director of National Women’s Council of Ireland, Orla O'Connor said today "the numbers are stark," going on to point out that only 18 women have been appointed to Cabinet since Countess Markievicz became Minister for Labour in 1919.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Fine Gael party have now released a statement defending their gender balance, pointing out that of the 11 Fine Gael female TDs, six are either Ministers or Junior Ministers.
The full statement reads:
Fine Gael in Government has done more than any other Party before it in terms of gender equality in politics.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has maintained the highest number of female Cabinet Ministers in the history of the State – first achieved in July 2014. Currently, there are four female full Cabinet Ministers, including the Tánaiste, and in addition, a female Super Junior Minister who sits at Cabinet.
Of the 11 Fine Gael female TDs, six are either Ministers or Junior Ministers, including the Super Junior Minister, meaning 55% of Fine Gael female TDs occupy senior Government positions. Of the five Fine Gael female TDs who are not Ministers, four are first time TDs.
Fine Gael introduced gender quotas cutting funding to political parties if they failed to run at least 30% women candidates at the General Election.
As a result of this, the 2016 election saw 35 women elected to the Dáil. This was the highest number of women ever elected to the Dáil and a 40% increase on 2011.
Fine Gael has more women elected to the Dáil than any other Party.
However there is no room for complacency and we continue to work to encourage more women into politics.
Fine Gael ran more female candidates than any other Party in the last Local Elections of 2014. In that election we had the highest number of female candidates ever to feature on a Fine Gael ticket.
The Party gave every possible support to these female candidates in their electoral bids, including training and mentoring specific to the challenges faced by women in politics.
Fine Gael is completely committed to increasing the number of women actively participating in politics and will continue to seek to boost the number of women at all levels of the Party.
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