Minister orders State boards to encourage greater gender balance as targets not being met

Representative bodies asked to ‘appropriately consider gender balance before sending nominations’

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has warned a number of State bodies to support more applications from women seeking to join their boards due to continuing concerns over a lack of gender balance.

In letters to the 12 boards under his remit, seen by The Irish Times, Mr McConalogue said gender balance must be considered before nominations are sent to him for approval. Some of the boards in question have a ministerial nominee.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal also wrote to agribusiness executives encouraging them to offer a pathway for women on to State boards. His party leader, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, last week said that women’s participation in farming is “vital”.

“As you may be aware the Government has a policy of strengthening the gender balance on State boards and has a target of at least 40 per cent for representation of each gender on State Boards,” Mr McConalogue said.

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“In the case of the 12 State bodies for which I have responsibility, there is an under representation of women on these boards and I am asking the chief executives of agribusiness companies to support women within their companies expressing an interest in being appointed to the boards of State bodies and to encourage those who may not [as of yet] considered putting themselves forward.”

Mr McConalogue also asked all representative bodies to “appropriately consider gender balance before sending nominations to myself for approval”.

He said that registering an expression of interest does not confer any special entitlement on the person, as they will be subject to the same assessment process as other applicants. “While I am anxious to ensure that there is gender balance on all State boards, I am conscious of the need to select the most suitable person for the position.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times