Sparkling anger and exposed elbows

I carry a notebook, pens and my calendar diary practically everywhere with me – taking down notes on things I hear, reminding myself to look up something which has been recommended to me or as most often happens writing and rewriting to do lists. I also keep writing a blog list – ideas/thoughts I have that I convince myself I will one day write award-winning blogs on …. unfortunately I have neither the temperament or talent to be an award-winning blogger or writer. Yet I find myself tonight looking through my most recent notebook and finding it impossible to leave some striking statistics, quotes and thoughts which I have come across in the past few weeks after attending two events which addressed the issue of women in politics. The first event was a fantastic conference in UCC, organised by Sandra McAvoy and Fiona Buckley, and was entitled ‘Moving in from the Margins: Women’s Political Representation in Ireland’. The second was an event organised by Labour Women and was a skills seminar on women in leadership. I gave a talk at the second event and will happily out myself now as a member of the Labour party, lest anyone accuse me of bias later on.


The issue of women, or the lack thereof, in Irish politics is a complex one and I do not claim or indeed plan to solve this problem in one blog post. Instead I’m just going to leave you with a few provoking bullet points so that you can explore your own thoughts, assumptions and opinions on the issue. Unfortunately, I cannot attribute the points to the individuals who spoke them (my note taking in that regard is not the best) but they originated with people far more experienced in this area than I.

  • 47% of Irish women have no female TD to represent them. 100% of Irish men have a male TD to represent them.
  • Being a woman TD and speaking for women as a TD is not a straightforward link.
  • Where there are women candidates, women are more likely to vote and campaign.
  • Where there are women TDs, women take a greater interest in public affairs.
  • Voluntary strategies to increase the number of women in politics do not work.
  • People should expect to have a choice of female candidates in each constituency.
  • Women would have never gotten the vote if we had waited for men to give it to us.
  • At the last election, in 60% of constituencies Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did not put forward women candidates.
  • Women are not allowed to expose their elbows in the Dail.
  • There is a big difference between women in parliament and women as ministers in parliament, for example in Rwanda – 54% of the parliament are women, yet only 17% of the ministers are female.
  • The Dail has always been at least 84% male.
  • You can feel like the future of women is on your shoulders.
  • We should be full of a sparkling anger, not a destructive anger but a sparkling anger.
  • On a good day, I’m a communist.
  • Since the foundation of the state, only 7 women have been elected to Dail Eireann to represent Cork and only 2 of this 7 have done it without a family dynasty – Mairin Quill and Kathleen Lynch.
  • All human interaction is about politics.
  • In a five seat constituency it doesn’t matter if 2 out of 3 people hate me because if 1 person out of every three likes me and votes for me, I make the quota.
  • It is mine by birthright.
  • The bee is praised, the mosquito is swatted.
  • Guilt is a debilitating emotion.
  • Get a business card.
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2 Responses to Sparkling anger and exposed elbows

  1. Tommacg says:

    Thanks for the interesting facts/thoughts (Not allowed to show elbows! Is that a written rule?)..

    Just one thing I’d query, and maybe you can answer this, but “Voluntary strategies to increase the number of women in politics do not work.” I’m not quite sure what you mean by this? The Scandinavian countries for example are always touted as places where there’s a high representation of women and with quotas (the argument being we should be like them)..yet as far as I know, the big increases of women in politics there took place in the 70s, prior to there being any quotas…

    Hope you’re well!

    • Hey,

      thanks for the comment. I can’t clarify it as I obviously noted it down when someone was speaking – I don’t know if it’s the speakers opinion or based on research so I can’t really help you out! Sorry about that!

      on behalf of Cork Feminista

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