Saturday 10 December 2016

President: We must complete women's march to equality

Published 09/03/2016 | 02:30

President Michael D. Higgins (centre) inspects an all female Captain's Guard of Honour, during the Commemoration for women in the 1916 Rising, as part of 1916 State commemorations, at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
President Michael D. Higgins (centre) inspects an all female Captain's Guard of Honour, during the Commemoration for women in the 1916 Rising, as part of 1916 State commemorations, at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to the Irish women who "repeatedly risked their lives" during the Easter Rising a century ago.

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And he urged their descendants to help "complete our journey towards the full enjoyment of women's rights in Ireland".

Hundreds of guests gathered at the Royal Hospital Kilmnainham to commemorate the role of women in the events of 1916 on International Women's Day.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and broadcaster Olivia O'Leary were just some of those who attended the event to remember the "mothers, grandmothers, aunts and grandaunts" who played their part in the revolution.

Speaking at the celebration in Dublin, President Higgins said: "It is such a great pleasure to have this opportunity to acknowledge publicly the great contribution of Irish women to the Easter Rising of 1916 that we're commemorating this year.

"Given the context of early 20th century Ireland, a time infused by cultural and social ideals of domesticity and respectability for women, when the conventional path for them was to tend to the affairs of the home not public ones, those women from our past were truly boundary breakers."

Battle

At least 300 women, including Countess Markievicz and Dr Kathleen Lynn, were actively involved in the battle for independence, with 77 later detained at Richmond Barracks.

Recalling the contribution made by his own mother and aunt, who were members of Cumann na mBan, President Higgins added: "Importantly, we should never forget how during these heady days of revolutionary activity, many women still had to look after their households. They had to be mother and father and carer and provider to their children."

Praising the work done by his "two great female predecessors", President Higgins also welcomed the election of a record number of female representatives to the 32nd Dail last week.

But he acknowledged there was still a "glass ceiling".

He continued: "Today we can rightfully rejoice in the progress we have made in the position of women in society.

"So many obstacles to the participation of women in the political and economic life of our country have been removed over the last few decades [but there is] so much more to do."

Irish Independent

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