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Suffragette Movement in Ireland ‘Lost in History’

CLARE Fine Gael held an event commemorating the granting of the right to vote to women at the Old Ground Hotel on Monday.

Clare was the first constituency in the country to have a 50/50 male/female representation in the Dáil, this was following the election of Síle DeValera and Madeleine Taylor Quinn in 1987, along with Donal Carey and Brendan Daly.

However, while there are constituencies nationally who have managed to have equal representation, it hasn’t happened again in Clare since.

The event, entitled Vótàil100, after a new committee the party has formed featured guest speaker Maria Bailey TD, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, the 100th female TD to be in the Dáil.

Also speaking at the event were former Clare TD Madeline Taylor-Quinn, Councillor Mary Howard, and Rebecca Gregan who stood for national president of Young Fine Gael this past year.

The meeting was chaired by equality officer with the Clare Fine Gael executive, Geraldine Gregan.

She outlined that the meeting discussed why there is still only 22% representation from women in Dáil Éireann.

“Fine Gael formed a committee this year called Votáil 100 committee, and I’m a member of it. It’s a national committee to honour the work done in getting the vote. The suffragette movement in Ireland has been lost in history really,” she said.

Tthere were 1,000 people involved in the women’s movement in Ireland from 1908 and they kept demanding that suffrage for women would be written into any Home Rule agreement.

“If you read the proclamation Irish men and Women and in the third paragraph it’s all about equality, equal representation and respect for all, which was the input from women but that message has got lost in history. That is what the Votáil 100 committee is trying to recognise. I am hoping in a few weeks that Clare County Council would recognise it, but Fine Gael as an organisation has recognised it,” Geraldine said.

While the gender quota has been introduced, she said questions still need to be asked about why women don’t put themselves forward.

“We have three female county councillors now but why not more. There is still the same old selection convention and the established public representatives have an established following so you have to work through that,” she said.

Geraldine believes that women “hesitate putting themselves forward, over male colleagues”.

“I personally believe co-education will be important down the road. I think it is crazy separating boys and girls in their formative years and having them expect to come together at 18 and be natural with each other, and that’s a reason in my view,” she concluded.

 

About Carol Byrne

Carol Byrne is a reporter at The Clare Champion newspaper reporting on news in the East Clare area and the arts. She also covers the courts in County Clare and has received four national awards for this coverage from the Law Society of Ireland. A Masters in journalism graduate of NUI Galway, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Limerick in Music and Media Studies. She began her career interning at The Limerick Leader and Clare FM, before taking up a full time post at The Clare Champion in 2006.

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