Between 2004 and 2019, there were about four times as many men as women in Local Government seats with very little change over that period. 20.2 per cent of Local Government seats were taken by women in 2004, decreasing to 17.3 per cent in 2009 and then increasing to 20.1 per cent in 2014 and then 23.9 per cent in 2019 (see Chart 1). Dublin has the largest proportion of seats held by women, 38.8 per cent in 2019. In the 2004 elections, the Midlands returned the lowest proportion, only 11.1 per cent of seats to female candidates. This changed to the South East region in 2019, as they returned the lowest proportion, only 13 per cent of seats were held by women candidates.
Overall improvements have been noted between the 2004 and 2019 Local Elections, especially in counties that had a low number of women candidates in 2004. In that year, there were nine Local Authorities who had less then 10 per cent of their seats filled by women, in 2019, there were three. Clare increased the number of seats held by women from just 6.3 per cent in 2004 to 14.3 in 2019. Likewise in Laois, the proportion there increased from 8 per cent to 26.3 per cent in the same period. The Local Government Reform Act of 2014 had an impact when Waterford City, who had 13.3 per cent of seats held by women, merged with Waterford County, who has 21.7 per cent of their seats held by women. By 2019, the merged Waterford City and County only had 6.3 per cent female representation.
In 2019, 50 per cent, exactly half the seats in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown were taken by women. This was the highest proportion in the country with the lowest that year in Longford, returning only 5.6 per cent. Only Fingal had more than 40 per cent of the seats held by women in 2004. By 2019, they were joined by Dublin City, Kildare and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.
Chart 1. Female Representation in Local Government, 2004 to 2019.