In 100 years of Dáil, only 19 women served in Cabinet

In 100 years of Dáil, only 19 women served in Cabinet

A hundred years after first being given the vote, women are still seeking equality, are still facing gender bias and receive inappropriate comments, female politicians have warned.

Former president Mary McAleese, former tánaistí Joan Bruton, Frances Fitzgerald and Mary Coughlan were among those who attended a special event in Dublin's Convention Centre to mark the 1918 election - the first time women received the right to vote.

Fine Gael's Ms Fitzgerald said she imagines Countess Markievicz, elected in 1918 for Sinn Féin, would be disappointed by the lack of progress made to date. There are now 35 female TDs which represents just 22% of the Dáil.

"If you consider what representation means, it does mean that all of the people are represented where key decisions are taken and you still have 78% men representing the population of Ireland so it's simply not good enough."

Speaking of the countess, Ms Fitzgerald said: "She was very revolutionary, I think she would have taken more actions to ensure that there were more women in the intervening period if she were around."

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said: "One of the things I am so thrilled about is that I had a great-grandmother called Catherine Brady who left Virginia, Co Cavan, before women had the vote and now I am a returned diaspora and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Countess Markievicz.

"We have no reason now not to take a big leap forward in relation to these issues," she said.

Full gender equality is not simply about representation in politics but it's about the sharing between men and women in relation to both the public and the private space.

During the event, Tipperary county councillor Mary Hanna Hourigan raised an incident in which personal and derogatory remarks were made about her at public meetings and that was echoed by others in attendance.

Speaking at a separate event, also held to mark Votáil 100 in Leinster House, Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin (FF) said more support is needed to help women enter political life.

"When we look at the areas of pension inequality, the gender pay gap and many other different areas, in relation to domestic violence and sexual violence, there is an onus on us women who are in the Oireachtas at the moment to fight and to fight and to fight harder to empower those women who need it.

We need true equality right across the country.

Green Party TD Catherine Martin asked what the countess would think about the fact there has only been 19 females in Cabinet in the 100 years since she was appointed.

"We have a duty as elected women to remember the women across the world who remain unfree, who remain in poverty, suffering discrimination and also at Christmas time there are women in our own country who are homeless who feel that that right to vote doesn't mean that much to them because they are being left behind," she said.

More in this Section

Someone is €500,000 richer after winning EuroMillions Plus drawSomeone is €500,000 richer after winning EuroMillions Plus draw

Could robots steal our hearts as well as our jobs?Could robots steal our hearts as well as our jobs?

Missing woman forest search finds ‘nothing of significance’Missing woman forest search finds ‘nothing of significance’

Lunney family endured ‘week from hell’ after Quinn executive abducted and attackedLunney family endured ‘week from hell’ after Quinn executive abducted and attacked


Against popular wisdom and flying a plane made from bamboo, wire and bike handlebars, a Co Antrim woman blazed a sky trail for aviation and for the independence of women, writes Bette BrowneMagnificent Lilian Bland blazed a trail for independence of women in her plane of bamboo

The epic battle for the bridge at Arnhem, as depicted in the blockbuster 'A Bridge Too Far', saw the Allies aim to end the war by Christmas 1944, but failed as a huge airborne assault force failed to take the last bridge across the Rhine. In an extract from his latest book 'A Bloody Week', Dan Harvey tells the story of one of the hundreds of brave men from Ireland who gave their all to the Allied campaignThe bridge to war: Dan Harvey's new book looks at the Irish who went a bridge too far

More From The Irish Examiner