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Sandbags not Handbags - Longford Westmeath; General Election 2016; the gender quota

Thursday, 3rd March, 2016 4:08pm

Sandbags not Handbags - Longford Westmeath; General Election 2016; the gender quota

Gabrielle McFadden (Fine Gael) and Connie Gerety-Quinn (Fianna Fáil)

RTÉ Radio 1

Documentary on One: Sandbags not Handbags? Explores the Impact of the Gender Quota on Two Longford Westmeath Candidates in GE16

This Saturday March 5 at 2pm, a new Documentary on One – Sandbags not Handbags? – goes behind the scenes of General Election 2016 with two Longford Westmeath candidates, Gabrielle McFadden (Fine Gael) and Connie Gerety-Quinn (Fianna Fáil).

The constituency made headlines before General Election 2016 for two reasons: floods and the gender quota.

The predictions were that three of the four seats were a certainty – for three male candidates. Two female candidates, Gabrielle McFadden (FG) and Connie Gerety-Quinn (FF), were competing for the final seat.

In Sandbags not Handbags?, the Documentary on One team follow Gabrielle and Connie throughout the first general election that has imposed a minimum 30pc quota on female candidates being put forward by political parties.

While McFadden (FG) was a sitting TD (taking over for her sister Nicky), Connie Gerety-Quinn got on the Fianna Fáil ticket in the constituency due to the gender quota.

As a result, two male would-be candidates lost out, creating ructions at the Fianna Fáil selection convention. The row spilled on to the airwaves and one of the disappointed men told RTÉ: “If the stiletto was on the other foot, there would be people coming down on buses from Dublin and marching on the streets of Longford.”

As McFadden and Gerety-Quinn run in their first general election, we join them as they seek out votes door-to-door, work with their campaign teams and meet early morning commuters.

These candidates also receive abuse from angry voters, host their party leaders and participate in local debates.

Despite Ireland placing 25th out of 28 countries in the EU for female representatives in parliament, neither Gabrielle McFadden nor Connie Gerety-Quinn agree with the new gender quota. They believe only the best candidates should face election, irrespective of gender.

Documentary on One: Sandbags not Handbags? will be available online at from 1pm on Friday 4 March and broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 at 2pm on Saturday 5 March.

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