Hundred years of votes for women, but they still remain on the fringes of Irish Politics


It has been 100 years since women’s enfranchisement and the election of an Irish woman – Sinn Féin’s Constance Markievicz – as the first female member of parliament. However, the level of political participation by women on the island of Ireland remains lower than in Britain.

Pioneering Irish suffragists, including Anna Haslam and Isabella Tod, were politicised in the 1860s by the campaign to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts. This legislation allowed for compulsory medical examination and forcible treatment of prostitutes to decrease the incidence of sexually transmitted infections among soldiers.

The Ladies National Association and National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts marked the first political organisation of Irish women on gender issues. They were the forerunners of subsequent suffrage societies, such as Tod’s North of Ireland Women’s Suffrage Committee (1872) and Haslam’s Irish Women’s Suffrage and Local Government Association (1876). Haslam had signed John Stuart Mill’s 1866 petition for female suffrage.

To read the full article written by Professor Yvonne Galligan's and Dr Marie Coleman, please click here.

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