To mark International Women’s Day (Wednesday, March 1st) the Regional Women’s Caucus together with Roscommon Women’s Network, See Her Elected and members of both Roscommon County Council and Comhairle na nÓg came together to reverse the gender imbalance within local politics.
As part of what was described as “a momentous day” at Áras an Chontae, 14 women and four men sat in the chamber for an event that was overseen by honorary Cathaoirleach for the day and event organiser Cllr. Emer Kelly.
The event was aimed at highlighting the need for more female representation in politics. The event heard that just 25.5 per cent of county councillors across Ireland are women.
Those in attendance, including the four local female councillors and Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan, heard from a number of female speakers from various different backgrounds.
Cllr. Emer Kelly described the event as “historic” and part of a wider campaign to highlight the current male-dominated power balance in local politics.
Cllr Kelly said that while the percentage of female councillors in Roscommon had increased to 22 per cent since the last local elections in 2019, there was still progress to be made.
Council Chief Executive Shane Tiernan, whose executive is dominated by female members, said women play a pivotal role in the local authority.
Praising the four female elected members of Roscommon County Council, Mr Tiernan also paid tribute to past members who helped lead the way for local women in politics.
“The county still has a journey to go in order to allow women to play a role,” he said before adding that Roscommon County Council was fully supportive of women who had ambition to become more active in politics as well as in the more traditional male roles within the local authority.
Cllr Orla Leyden said last Wednesday (1st) was a day to celebrate but also “a day to challenge the status quo” and to “challenge what isn’t working” in terms of gender balance.
Cllr Valerie Byrne said it was important to celebrate how far women had come but to also remember there was still a long way to go.
Cllr Kathleen Shanagher paid tribute to the senior executive and highlighted some of the challenges faced by women including the effort and organisation required by working mothers to attend the event.
The meeting also heard from Rita Kearney and members of Roscommon Women’s Network, members of Comhairle na nÓg, Mairead O’Shea of ‘See Her Elected’, and
elected male members including Cathaoirleach Cllr. Tom Crosby.