The Standards in Public Office Commission this week released a report into the state funding of political parties.
The purpose of the state funding is laid out in the Electoral Act 1997
” … the general conduct and management of the party’s affairs and the lawful pursuit by it of any of its objectives and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, any or all of the following purposes, namely -
(1) the general administration of the party,
(2) research, education and training,
(3) policy formulation, and
(4) the co-ordination of the activities of the branches and members of the party.”
The report contains an analysis of the way in which each party reported they spent the funds awarded to them. The Commission ascertained the proportion of funds (£5.91m) spent on administration, research, policy work and promoting the participation of women and young people.
Immediately you will notice the minuscule amount of funding used by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party on the participation of women. Now they may say they use other funds for these measures but surely they should be using funds of the state on these matters and be shown to be doing so?
In total only €123,232 of the €5.91 million was spent on the promotion of participation by women, with €208, 523 spent on Youth Participation. The 2009 report from the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Women’s Rights does recommend more funding to be spent encouraging the participation of women in politics. 14% of TD’s are female and it does not look like the situation will improve for the two biggest parties in the land with the amounts of funding they are dedicating to the area.