Minister of State Pippa Hackett, Marguerite O'Loughlin, Fianna Fail National Women’s and Equality officer and Minister of State Peter Burke.

Offaly drive to increase number of women in local politics

A new initiative in Offaly County Council aimed at increasing the number of women involved in local politics in Offaly has been launched.

The initiative was funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage as part of a funding stream aimed at increasing gender balance and diversity in local government structures and decision making and was delivered by Women for Election on behalf of Offaly County Council.

Speaking at the launch on Wednesday night, Minister of State Peter Burke highlighted the work he and his Department are doing to ensure more women are supported to run for the local elections in 2024, as well as warmly welcoming the measures being proposed.

He said that Offaly County Council currently only has one female member among 19 was “a stark statistic”.

“Unfortunately, local government has a long way to go before we have balanced representation in our council chambers.

“I wish to commend Offaly County Council and Women for Election on this worthy initiative, which consists of a series of workshops, both online and in person and I would strongly encourage women living in Offaly who are active in their community, or indeed women who are interested in expanding their knowledge of the political realm, to sign up for the courses on offer, and to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”

On the matter of grant funding, the Minister said: “I continue to provide funding to promote the participation of both women and people from diverse background in local politics.  Over the last two years, we have undertaken a wide variety of initiatives including annual calls for funding geared towards both local authorities and political parties.  I have sanctioned funding for local authorities to establish apolitical women’s caucuses, as well as providing significant funding to political parties who can link projects to tangible outcomes in our shared goal of supporting more women to run for office.”

“My department continues to collaborate with fantastic organisations such as Women for Election and See Her Elected, and similar funding amounts will continue to be made available.  This targeted funding, as well as new policy measures such as maternity leave for councillors, will make the role of councillor more accessible for women and will mean that our council chambers become more reflective of the societies that they serve.”