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Varadkar wants 20 female Fine Gael TDs after next General Election

The Taoiseach wants at least 20 female Fine Gael TDs elected after the next General Election.

Speaking at the launch of an action plan to accelerate gender equality in third level education, Leo Varadkar said his party are putting special supports in place to get more women elected.

The action plan will see 45 female-only senior academic positions made available over the next three years in a bid to tackle gender inequality in third level education.

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said the introduction of the gender-specific post had gone through "rigorous legal assessment to ensure its consistency with the EU and national law."

She has also set a target of having 40% of professorships filled by women by 2024.

Asked if he would aim to have a 50/50 split in his Cabinet, Mr Varadkar said: "There are 12 women TDs who support the Government who voted for me as Taoiseach and out of those 12 seven are ministers, so if you are a female TD who votes for me as Taoiseach... it ain't bad odds.

"I do lead a party, Fine Gael, which has more female TDs than any other party.

"So what we need in the next Dáil is more women TDs and we are working on that.

I want to make sure there are at least 20 female TDs in my party.

Mr Varadkar said he will ensure that at least 30% of Fine Gael candidates are female in the next General Election and has tasked Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty with heading up work around putting "special efforts behind them to help them get elected".

"So that's what needs to be done, we need many more TDs who are female, many more senators who are female so we get to that point where therefore we can have many more women around the Cabinet table and that's what I want to achieve."

Mr Varadkar said he had been "really encouraged" by the recent US elections where he said, "we saw so many women elected to Congress so let's have an election like that in Ireland next time it comes."