Why doesn’t Galway elect more women to City Hall?


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Why doesn’t Galway elect more women to City Hall? Why doesn’t Galway elect more women to City Hall?

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Voting for women candidates, merely because they are women, is not a great strategy. Margaret Thatcher proved that.

There are a couple of women – and men, too – running for election to Galway City Council with outlooks on life more poisonous than the socially destructive former British Prime Minister. No ticks for them, then, regardless of gender.

But City Hall needs more women because institutions that are unrepresentative of the population will struggle to serve all the people.

In 2019, just five out of 18 Councillors elected were women. They included Clodagh Higgins (FG) and Pauline O’Reilly (Green) in City West; Colette Connolly (Ind) and Martina O’Connor (Green) in City Central; and the lone ranger in City East, Terry O’Flaherty (Ind).

Two of them are going or gone from the Council; Connolly is not seeking re-election, and O’Reilly was replaced by a man (Niall Murphy) when she was elevated to the Seanad mid-term.

Imelda Byrne, co-opted into Ollie Crowe’s seat when he was also elected a Senator, restored the female-male ratio to five-thirteen, but she too is leaving politics.

O’Connor is under pressure and could lose her seat if the electorate sees red over the Greens; while Higgins and O’Flaherty should be returned, even though there is no such thing as ‘safe seats’.

In City West, just three of the 17 candidates are women. That’s 18%. In City East, there are seven women out of 20 candidates (35%), while City Central has six women among 16 candidates (37.5%).

In Central, Eibhlín Seoighthe (Soc Dems) and in particular Josie Forde (FF) will make bold bids to take seats. Their success might come at O’Connor’s expense, though.

Same in City East. The two Aislings – Burke (SF) and Keogh (FG) – as well as Labour’s Helen Ogbu and Soc Dem Justine Delaney Heaslip, are all contenders but only two of them, at best, are likely to join the ever-popular O’Flaherty.

That means, realistically, even with a swing towards women, there will be at most six women on the next Council. That’s 33%, which would be a record high, but well short of the desired 50/50 split. On a bad day, there could be just two, maybe three women elected. Not very representative.

Pictured: The popular Independent Councillor Terry O’Flaherty should be returned in City East, even though there is no such thing as a ‘safe seat’.

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