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Only 15% of candidates are women

WOMEN will account for just 15 percent of the candidates running in the general election, the Irish Independent reports.

Despite promises from all parties to tackle the under-representation of women, there are just 56 females among the 381 candidates declared so far.

The Labour Party has the highest number of women running for the Dail (16), followed by Fine Gael (14) and Fianna Fail (9).

There are five female Sinn Fein candidates as well as five in the United Left Alliance. There are four female Independent candidates and three female Greens.

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The number of women running is lower than the 2007 General Election, when only 82 out of 470 candidates were female. And the 2007 figure was the lowest number of women since 1989. Many of the country's 43 constituencies do not have a single woman running in this general election.

And in a sign of the difficulties facing female candidates, one of those surrounding Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in their group election photo yesterday got an elbow in the back from a male candidate fighting for position. Kenny said yesterday his party had more women running than in the 2007 General Election.

"We're very happy about that. Obviously, we want to see as many as possible," he said.

But in fact, Fine Gael actually has fewer women running in this election (14 out of 102) compared to 2007, when 15 out of its 92 candidates were female.

There are 23 women in Dail Eireann, accounting for just 13.85pc of seats. And with six of these women retiring from politics, it is likely that the representation will be even lower in the next Dail.

Those departing include former Health Minister Mary Harney, Fianna Fail TD Beverley Flynn and Fine Gael Laois-Offaly TD Olwyn Enright, who is quitting politics to look after her children.

University College Cork lecturer Fiona Buckley said there were five "Cs" explaining why so few women were in politics: childcare, cash, confidence, culture and candidate selection.

Ms Buckley is involved in the 50:50 Group, which aims to have an even split between men and women in the Dail by 2020.

The National Women's Council of Ireland is in favor of a "quota system" that would force parties to ensure a certain percentage of their candidates were women.