Clare event addresses under-representation of women in politics in rural Ireland

Having a female perspective at the decision-making level is important to ensure balanced decisions are made, the event heard
Clare event addresses under-representation of women in politics in rural Ireland

Pictured are participants and attendees at the ‘Promoting Gender Equality & Diversity in Local Government’ event in glór in Ennis. Picture: Eamon Ward

Increased female representation at the decision-making level will ensure more balanced decisions are made on a range of issues, an event in Clare has heard.

The event was organised by Clare County Council with the aim of addressing the under-representation of women in politics in rural Ireland.

It was funded in collaboration with See Her Elected (SHE) and was funded by the Department of Local Government.

According to SHE, just 26% of county councillors throughout Ireland are female and there is a much lower percentage of female councillors in rural counties compared to more urban centres such as Dublin.

Four of 28 councillors on Clare County Council are women, while two of Clare’s seven Oireachtas members are women.

Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan, said events like this one are important.

"It is very important that we welcome and encourage people from all genders and backgrounds to engage in electoral politics to ensure that we are truly representative of the people we serve," he said.

It is well known that women are under-represented in politics, and initiatives like this supported by government are attempting to address this imbalance.

Cllr Ryan said that he hopes to see "greater gender balance" on the ballot paper in the 2024 local elections.

Noeleen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance and Support Services, Clare County Council, who opened the event, said gender equality and diversity of representation benefits everyone.

"We welcome the opportunity to support initiatives that promote wider inclusivity and diversity in local decision-making structures and we are pleased to collaborate with See Her Elected on the work it is doing to empower women in rural constituencies to engage in politics."

Madeleine Taylor-Quinn, who was Co Clare’s first-ever female TD in 1981, speaking at the event. Picture: Eamon Ward
Madeleine Taylor-Quinn, who was Co Clare’s first-ever female TD in 1981, speaking at the event. Picture: Eamon Ward

Speakers at the event included Madeleine Taylor-Quinn, who spoke about her journey to becoming Co Clare’s first-ever female TD in 1981.

Having a female perspective at the decision-making level is important to ensure balanced decisions are made, added Dr Michelle Maher, Programme Manager with SHE.

"Clare County Council are starting the conversation with this event in glór, but that’s not the end of it," she said.

SHE is offering a free online course to women in Co Clare, called ‘Introduction to Politics.’ "It is an honour for See Her Elected to be associated with Clare County Council in this. Because Clare County Council are really stepping forward as leaders here so that this is not a once-off, box-ticking exercise."

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