A SINN Féin spokesperson confirmed that the party is ‘actively considering’ female candidates to contest the general election in Cork South West.
The phrasing of the announcement was deliberate following a row in Limerick where potential male candidates were taken aback to be told that women only need apply.
It was after Sinn Féin failed to elect a TD in the February 2019 general election in Limerick county, Cork North West, and Cork South West, that the party determined that these constituencies would field female candidates.
Former MEP Liadh Ní Riada has already been selected to represent the Cork North West constituency, but in Cork South West there was speculation that former Sinn Féin councillor, Rachel McCarthy, would be asked to contest the next general election for Sinn Féin.
However, when The Southern Star spoke to Rachel McCarthy – who did not seek re-election in 2019 – she confirmed: ‘I am not considering it, at this time.’
Nevertheless, there is an election strategy group in place at present and they are considering a number of other possible candidates in Cork South West, all female.
The policy is aimed at increasing the party’s gender quota after the next general election because the quota is expected to be increased from 30% to 40%.
After seven years as a councillor, and two attempts at securing one of the three seats in Cork South West, Cllr Hayes made the shock announcement, last April, to leave the party to become an Independent councillor.
The Southern Star asked Cllr Hayes if he would ever stand for SF again. He said: ‘It is highly unlikely.’ The party will, however, be looking to build on his vote-getting performance, including his ability to secure 3,346 first preference votes in 2011.