Friday, March 17, 2023


By Joe Barrett


To celebrate International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March over 60 women from women’s groups across Laois gathered in the council chamber of Áras an Chontae at the invitation of Cathaoirleach cllr Thomasina Connell.

The wide range of backgrounds among the women demonstrated the diversity in the county and included women from the Yarnbombers from Mountmellick, Active Retired, Dignity Partnership, Comhairle na n-Og, La Leche League, Syrian Women’s Group, ICA, Portlaoise Family Resource Centre, Ukrainian Support Group and the Laois Brazilian Support Association.

The keynote speaker on the day was the former CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and former Chair of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Rathdowney native Ellen O’ Malley-Dunlop. She is now a member of the Council of Europe GREVIO committee which seeks to combat Domestic Violence against women.

Portlaoise poet and activist Laura Murphy gave a reading of her poem Is Mise Bridget and explained how she had advocated for Saint Bridget’s Day on 1 February to become a Public Holiday in Ireland.

The theme of International Women’s Day this year was Embrace Equity which gave those present the opportunity to hear from some of the attendees about their own experiences of embracing equity.

The event in Áras an Chontae was brought about by way of an initiative by the WoMeN’s (Western Midlands and Northern) Regional Caucus which Cathaoirleach Connell is an active participant of. The caucus aims to support female participation in politics to help more women to seek election and also for women currently elected to remain in politics.

Programme Manager with See Her Elected Dr. Michelle Maher said: “The WoMeN’s Regional Caucus is an important political institution in Irish politics and the capacity of the caucus to provide formal and informal supportive environments is a welcome addition to the incentives for more women to consider running in the local elections.

“Only 25.5.% of county councillors across Ireland are women, however in the counties where our caucus members are elected, the figures are much starker. One of the goals of the caucus is to retain currently elected female councillors and also to support more women to enter local politics in rural Ireland in the next local elections of 2024.”

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