In this week's An Phoblacht, Justin Moran expresses his displeasure at the manner in which the Sinn Féin Ard Comhairle is structured. At present. of the 12 members of the Ard Comhairle, 6 must be women. This was an initiative taken in order to help address the gender balance. But many feel that this top down approach is not the proper way to deal with the under reprensation of women, something which is a common theme within all parties. Sinn Féin actually put forward a higher percentage of female candidates than the other parties in the north.
I personally have problems with the concept of "positive discrimination". Certainly I realise that it can often be a "necessary evil" but setting quotas strikes me as an easy way out. Neither do I accept the nonsense that women are not as interested in politics. Personally when signing up members I've found that a high percentage of those who express an interest in joining a political party are female, yet when it comes to actually going to meeting, males tend to turn out in far greater numbers. It is an issue which all parties must address. The image of politics as a "gentleman's pursuit" is extermely bad for the democratic process.