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FF accused of ‘male, pale and stale’ MEP theme

Fine Gael MEP Maria Walsh has highlighted that Fianna Fáil has so far selected three male politicians, all aged 56, to run in the upcoming European elections.

Ms Walsh has also criticised the make up of the European Parliament.

“I think male, pale and stale is a very common theme out here,” said the Midlands North West MEP, speaking in Strasbourg.

Ms Walsh was asked about Fianna Fáil’s selection thus far of three men – all aged 56 – who are running as the party’s candidates in June’s European Parliament elections.

Barry Cowen (56) was the latest Fianna Fáil candidate to be selected by the party last Monday night.

He will fight for a seat in the newly expanded Midlands North West constituency.

Billy Kelleher and Barry Andrews, who are also 56, were previously selected to represent Ireland South and Dublin, respectively.

Maria Walsh said: “We are not a representation if we continue to send certain age, certain skin colours, certain gendered people back here [to Strasbourg]. And the fact that a Government party as has only selected … three men, well that’s on them.”

She pointed out that Fine Gael returned four women in 2019.

Barry Andrews said the final ticket had not been set, but admitted that “it isn’t a good look.”

“We have to have more female candidates before the people, and we didn’t do great in 2019.”

“In my area in Dun Laoghaire we’ve great representation at Council level, at Dáil level … there are structural problems around Irish politics, but yeah, it’s a hands-up job.”

Billy Kelleher said the candidates were selected by the members of the party but said there would be at least two more candidates added.

Mr Kelleher also pointed to the challenges that women face in politics, saying “they can’t go canvassing alone at night, and Holly Cairns closed an office.”

He said he hoped the very aggressive nature that had seeped into politics was taken out.

Fine Gael has yet to select its candidates for the election, but two of its female MEPs, Deirdre Clune in Ireland South and Frances Fitzgerald in Dublin, have said they will not run again.

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