Irish Examiner View: Historic day shows us how much further we need to go

It was a tale of two Catherines in the Dáil, which witnessed something that had never happened before in its 101-year history.
Irish Examiner View: Historic day shows us how much further we need to go
Independent TD Catherine Connolly was elected as the Dáil's first female Leas Ceann Comhairle. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

The first woman to lead a political party in Ireland died on this day in 1962.
The first president of Sinn Féin, Margaret Buckley, or Maighréad Uí Bhuachalla as she was known, might be interested to see that her former party still has a female president in Mary Lou McDonald.

She might also be fascinated by the tale of two Catherines that unfolded in Irish politics yesterday. One of them, Minister Catherine Martin, failed in her bid to become the first leader of the Green Party. Eamon Ryan defeated her by 48 votes, polling 994 to her 946.

Another Catherine, however, unexpectedly made Dáil history.

In a shock vote, Independent TD Catherine Connolly beat the agreed Government candidate, Fergus O’Dowd, to become Leas Ceann Comhairle. It is the first time in the 101 years of Dáil Éireann that a woman has ever been elected either Ceann Comhairle or Leas Ceann Comhairle.

It is a move in the right direction, but the fact it is considered a historic moment is a sign of the progress yet to be made.

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