Wednesday 7 December 2016

For five years, let's give this all-female Dream Cabinet a go

Published 15/09/2015 | 02:30

Fiona Shaw springs to mind as Minister for Foreign Affairs, maybe because Cork considers itself a country apart and she does a great job as an ambassador for arts, hearts and minds
Fiona Shaw springs to mind as Minister for Foreign Affairs, maybe because Cork considers itself a country apart and she does a great job as an ambassador for arts, hearts and minds

The next general election will be like none before. For the first time, 30pc of the major (shrinking) parties' candidates must be female or they will face a financial penalty. Ireland is 83rd in the world ranking of women's representation in 190 parliaments, alongside North and South Korea. Contrary to the old chestnut that this will produce tokenistic females, there are robust, fearless women taking their first steps into the gladiatorial arena, not giving a fig for the patriarchal parties.

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At a recent EQUIP programme run by Women For Election, I met two feisty 23-year-old candidates, Adrienne Wallace and Lorna Bogue. They sat their Junior Cert the year of the banking collapse and they are not happy about their generation's prospects.

Imagine 50 years of Irish life with an all-male cabinet. Me neither. That is how it was until 1979 when Máire Geoghegan-Quinn was allocated the Gaeltacht portfolio. Prior to the Free State, Countess Markiewicz was the first female politician to win a seat in the British House of Commons and the first Irish female cabinet minister.

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