Bertie Ahern says gender quotas for election are "mad" and "zany"

Former Taoiseach strongly criticises the requirement for 30% of a party's candidates to be female

Bertie Ahern says gender quotas for election are "mad" and "zany"

Photocall file photo

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said he thinks gender quotas in Fianna Fail are “mad” and “zany” – and he’s firmly against their introduction.

The former Fianna Fáil leader told The Pat Kenny Show strongly disagrees with the system, which he says will block candidates who have worked in local politics for years from contesting an election on nothing more.

He has been criticised for his comments by the group Women for Election, which encourages balance in political representation.

Suzanne Collins says it was inevitable that some candidates would be disappointed:

Dublin City councillor Daithí de Róiste has been blocked from contesting the general election because of the new rules on gender quotas – which stipulate that 30% of candidate a party puts forward have to be female. Instead Catherine Ardagh is the sole Fianna Fáil candidate in the Dublin South Central constituency.

“I don’t agree with it ... I think it’s zany,” Mr Ahern said.

“I think whether it’s a man or a woman, whoever comes through the position (deserves the nomination) - I have served at cabinet table with very formidable ladies like Mary O’Rourke, , Mary Harney and Mary Coughlan, who came through the ranks.

“Imagine if it was the other way around, if it was only a male person being allowed through?," he said.

“I bet you your programme this morning would be exclusively on that issue, but some genius thought it up and there goes it.”

“I think it’s mad. I think the idea that the person who works their way through the system, works their way through their branch ... get themselves popular with the public ... then comes to the convention of the party and (the party is) saying ‘yes you have done a very good job in the last ten years, breaking your neck in your community ... but you happen o be the wrong gender, so go away’.”

Mr Ahern also discussed the recent crisis in the North and Sunday’s All-Ireland final during his interview on The Pat Kenny Show

Live from @ElectionNT