Monday 24 July 2017

Joining the EU, not 1916, was the real revolution for Irish women

Constance Markievicz was the first woman to be appointed to Cabinet, in 1919
Constance Markievicz was the first woman to be appointed to Cabinet, in 1919

Emily O'Reilly

Many this year have mused about how things might have been had the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation survived. Perhaps we should ask instead how things might have been, and especially for women, had others not.

I am an Irishwoman with equal rights to those of Irishmen. I am a representative of those children of the nation for whom the Rising was - at its most benign, an important historical event in their lives; at its most venal, the raising of the flag for a period during which the humanity of every Irish woman was not just denied but actively legislated against.

That period ended not in 1919 or 1921 or 1926 or 1937 or 1948, but rather in 1973 when we entered what is now the European Union and our Government was forced not just to remember, reflect and re-imagine the equality they had denied, but actually to give it binding legal expression in line with the Treaty of Rome. Subsequent treaties, and 13 equality directives arising out of those treaties, finally gave to Irishwomen that which their own independent state had not.

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