Saturday 17 November 2018

I was naive to think number of women TDs would grow

Liz McManus

'I haven't gone away , you know. . ." I say to a local Sinn Fein councillor when he shakes my hand and wishes me well. My day has been spent explaining to all and sundry. Just because I've announced that I won't be standing in the next General Election, I explain, doesn't mean I'm no longer a TD. Until election day I'll be working as hard as ever in my role as public representative.

It's what I've been doing since 1979. First at local level, then at national level. Over 31 years there have been many changes, both good and bad.

In 1992 I was elected with a swathe of new women TDs. Our first experience was of being lined up on 'The Late, Late Show' and Gay Byrne asking us who was minding our children. Since then we've moved on, but I was naive enough to think that the number of women TDs would continue to grow. It hasn't. Because of barriers of culture, childcare, confidence, candidate selection and cash, female participation is still pitiful.

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