High Court dismisses gender quota challengeTuesday 02 February 2016 22.41
The High Court has dismissed a challenge by a Fianna Fáil activist to the electoral laws on gender quotas.
Brian Mohan, a Fianna Fáil member and student from Dublin, claimed the legislation was unconstitutional.
He had hoped to be selected to run for Fianna Fáil in the Dublin Central constituency in the forthcoming general election.
However the party issued a directive that only one candidate could be selected and that person had to be a woman.
The legislation says a party will have its State funding reduced by half unless 30% of its general election candidates are female.
That target is due to increase to 40% in seven years.
His lawyers had claimed a decision to adopt gender quotas had not been taken by the Fianna Fáil party itself.
They told the court it was outside the powers of the Oireachtas to attempt to influence through the use of State money who presented for election.
They added that Oireachtas members could not use State funding to bring about a particular type of candidate or result in a general election.
Senior Counsel Michael McDowell told the court it was for the people alone to decide who the country's rulers should be.
He said the provision of the legislation was a crude, punitive measure.
The State funding was a very substantial sum of money, which would be very difficult to get anywhere else.
Mr Justice David Keane dismissed Mr Mohan's arguments.
He said Mr Mohan had not presented any evidence that it would be impossible or even extremely difficult for Fianna Fáil to function with the reduction in State funding that failing to meet the gender quota targets would bring about.
He said Mr Mohan had failed to prove that his exclusion from the Dublin Central selection convention was as a result of the legislation rather than a decision made at the discretion of the party.
And he said Mr Mohan had failed to satisfy him that Fianna Fáil would not have brought in a gender quota itself if it were not for the legislation.
Mr Justice Keane upheld the State's argument that Mr Mohan had no legal standing to take the case and only Fianna Fáil as the affected political party could have taken the challenge.
Following the ruling, Mr Mohan said he was bitterly disappointed but intended to appeal the decision.
Mr Mohan said the case was never about running for election but about challenging legislation he did not think was right.
Costs were awarded against him after Mr McDowell SC told Mr Justice Keane he did not want the issue of costs to be adjourned as he wanted to clear the way for an appeal.