Taoiseach aiming to have 50/50 split between men and women in Irish parliament by 2030
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Taoiseach aiming to have 50/50 split between men and women in Irish parliament by 2030

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has set an ambitious target of achieving a 50/50 gender split in the Oireachtas by 2030.

Speaking during a special Women for Election event to mark International Women's Day on Monday, Martin said he was committed to legislative changes that would make politics more appealing to women.

He added that female politicians shouldn't have to choose between their jobs and taking maternity leave, stressing that Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will not have to resign in order to take leave.

"There will have to be legislative and constitutional change" in order to allow politicians to take maternity leave, Martin said.

"We need more women in politics," he stressed.

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"Political life is wonderfully interesting. Every day is different. If you're committed to public life or making a difference, my advice is to go for it.

"We need young women in particular to go forward.

"And we probably need a new type of participation in politics. Over the past few years we've seen more activism [from women] in social issues like Marriage Equality.

"We need electoral reform and to rethink the models through which people enter politics to help more people and more women move from this type of activism into politics."

Under current legislation, parties are obliged to field a ticket on which at least 30% of candidates are women.

However, it doesn't mandate how many successful candidates are required.

Mr Martin said he would be speaking with US President Joe Biden about the establishment of a Gender Council, which has been set up in the States to examine gender issues across government.

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He said he'd be open to exploring setting up a similar council in Ireland.