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 Regina Doherty TD had to say.
Regina Doherty TD
Fine Gael, Meath East
Regina is a TD since 2011 and previously a county councillor. She worked in the IT sector prior to election. Regina is a member of several Oireachtas committees, including Health and Children, Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform.
?I believe economic growth will continue upwards in the form of more jobs in our cities and towns right across the country, and that it is important that any such jobs will pay more than welfare. The biggest threat is a loss in stability, and the next election will be about who can be trusted to keep this recovery going.?
?As part of Budget 2016, the HSE will receive a total revenue allocation of €12,987 million to provide health and social care services. This represents an increase of €817 million (6.7 per cent) on the 2015 allocation. A serious issue is where capacity drops and trolley numbers increase as people remain in hospital not because of an ailment, but rather because it is not possible to return home. We are freeing up much needed beds by getting people out of hospitals via the Fair Deal scheme and making sure people can get their home care packages or access to convalescent beds.?
??85 million funding in our childcare package in Budget 2016 I believe represents a good first step on the road to achieving affordable, high quality childcare that is accessible for all children. Every day, community centres and classrooms are vacant from approximately 3pm. We do not need to invest in new buildings; these facilities are already at our doorsteps and should be used to their full capacity in the form of after school, homework, and breakfast clubs. In doing this, we will further alleviate the financial pressure on working parents and lessen the load on existing childcare services.?
?I warmly welcome the Taoiseach's commitment that the issue of the 8th Amendment will be dealt with through a process such as a citizens? convention within six months of the General Election, if Fine Gael re-enters Government. The Taoiseach has said that he would consider a free vote within the parliamentary party on the proposals that came out of the convention/forum process. I respect the right of everyone to have their own view on this.?
This article was originally published in the February issue of IMAGE Magazine.