The General Election takes place this Friday, and no clear winner has yet emerged throughout the mud-slinging campaign. We challenged five female candidates on the most important issues facing women in Ireland to help us decide on which way to vote. Their responses may just surprise you, says Sinead Ryan.
With more female candidates than ever standing for election this year, gender quotas, despite their mixed acceptance, are clearly having an impact. Political parties stand to lose hundreds of thousands of euro in funding if they don't meet the 30 per cent requirement of females on each ticket. It has led to dissent among some more traditional politicians, who believe that talent is losing out in favour of political correctness, but we prefer to think of it in terms of the famous line: ?Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels.?
We spoke with five female candidates likely to make an impact in General Election 2016 - Catherine Murphy, Jennifer Cuffe, Lucinda Creighton, Deirdre O'Donovan and Regina Doherty. We asked them about a range of topics, including the environment, jobs, housing, healthcare, childcare, the 8th Amendment, and who they see as the next Taoiseach. Here's what Deirdre O'Donovan had to say.
Independent Alliance, Dublin South West
Deirdre is a county councillor. She campaigned for Shane Ross in 2011 and became a councillor in 2014 with a focus on family issues.
?There are certainly more people back at work, but unfortunately the quality of the jobs on offer is unsustainable for our recovery. I am working with families who are struggling to survive on zero hour contracts, not knowing what income they will have from one week to the next. That is not the basis for a thriving economy.?
?As a member of the Regional Health Forum, I meet with the HSE every month, and this is not fit for purpose. How can such a massive money pit be so ineffective? The more managers there are in place, the more red tape and form filling there is, and the less patient-centred the whole system becomes. There needs to be a complete overhaul of the health system, starting with looking to see where the money is being spent.?
?The problem we have is trying to find the balance between the small landlord who is renting out a single property because that's his pension against lower income earners who will never be able to afford their own home and who are at the mercy of rent hikes. What the market needs is housing associations or large investors providing security of tenure to families for decades.?
?The struggle here is how do we balance the need to conserve our fragile environment, without ruining the homes and livelihoods of those living within it? The Shannon Estuary is the perfect example of how poorly we are currently managing matters. There are multiple agencies with responsibly, but without any requirement to co-ordinate their efforts, and the recent flooding crisis is the tragic result of that failure to properly manage the situation. We need a common sense approach at the heart of government.?
?The people of Ireland need to have their say on this very contentious issue for once and for all. As a mother, I trust women to make the right choices about their own bodies.?
?According to the polls, it will be Enda Kenny. But what will be interesting is who will be in government with them. The electorate have seen how effective Independents have been, especially those of us coming from a community volunteer background.?
This article was originally published in the February issue of IMAGE Magazine.