JUST under 20% of councillors elected to the new Cork City Council are women raising questions about how females are represented in Cork politics.
The north side will have just one female representative with Solidarity representative Fiona Ryan the only women out of 12 councillors in the North West and North East wards. There had previously been three female representatives on the northside but councillors Lil O’Donnell and Solidarity's Marion O’Sullivan decided not to run in last week’s elections.
Sinn Féin’s Mandy O’Leary Hegarty, Solidarity’s Carol Brogan, Social Democrat Sinéad Halpin and Fine Gael’s Lorraine O’Neill failed to get elected in the North East ward.
In the North West ward, Sandra Condon (IND), Catherine Coffey (WP), Martina Murphy (HRRA) and Julie O’Leary (FG) missed out on seats.
Ms Ryan said she feels women are engaged with politics but many are discouraged from running due to the lack of supports for councillors that want to have children.
She also cited the €17,060 gross per annum salary plus expenses and monthly allowances as a barrier to young people who want to enter politics.
“I will have to make a decision in the next five years as to whether I want to have children or not,” she told The Echo.
“The cost of rents has made it untenable for some young councillors across Ireland who are being forced to step down.
“I turned 30 this year. I am going to have to consider, do I want children? I will have no maternity leave if it is the case.
“I would have no support in that scenario. It’s something I will have to think about if I run again, the lack of supports for councillors, not just economic but lack of childcare and maternity leave and having to seek permission specifically from the council - like what happened to a colleague in Cork County Council,” she added.
The city will have just six female representatives out of a total of 31 in all. The South East ward will be represented by Lorna Bogue (Green Party), Deirdre Forde (FG) and Mary Rose Desmond (FF).
South Central has one female councillor in Fiona Kerins (SF). Newly elected Green Party representative Collette Finn has also secured a seat in the South West Ward.
This contrasts with County Hall where over 25% (14 of 55) of councillors are women and this figure may even increase depending on the results of a recount between independent Finbarr Harrington and Social Democrat Holly McKeever Cairns. However, both the four-seater Kanturk and five-seater Mallow electoral areas are without a woman representative.
The issue of a lack of maternity leave for councillors has previously been raised by county councillor Danielle Twomey in 2017, who revealed she had to return to work four weeks after having one of her children.