Belfast Telegraph

Party cash threat over women quota

Political parties will have their State funding slashed in half if they do not hit a 30% quota for women standing in the next general election.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan published new reforms to boost gender equality in politics starting with fines for those failing to come up to the mark.

He said: "This legislation will change the face of politics forever. I am bringing forward this measure in order to address an issue of major concern in the functioning of Ireland's democratic system where women are significantly under-represented."

Mr Hogan said the new legislation will ensure that the women quota rises to 30% at the next election before increasing again seven years later to 40%. There are currently 25 female TDs - just over 15% of Dail Eireann. This is the highest amount of female politicians in Ireland's history.

The Bill also included the reform of political funding and corporate donations. This will see donations being restricted, political party accounts published and the maximum amount that can be accepted as a political donation will be cut by more than half.

Mr Hogan added: "This legislation will address issues of serious public concern in the operation of political funding arrangements in Ireland."

Under the reforms, corporate donations more than 200 euro will be prohibited unless the donors meet strict conditions.

Details of donors will also be included on a register on the Public Office Commission website. These measures will apply to all corporate and unincorporated bodies, which include companies, trade unions, trusts, clubs, building societies and non-governmental organisations.

The limit of political donations will be reduced from 6,348 euro to 2,500 euro for every political party. There will also be a drop in the thresholds at which political donations must be declared to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

Eoin Murray, of the National Women's Council of Ireland, said: "Women bring a different perspective to politics and different skills, and they operate in different ways. But if we reach a critical mass of 30% of women, they can begin to change the agenda."

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