Women in the Oireachtas: Dáil Éireann (1973 - 1992)


The 1970s and 80s brought quite a few changes to Irish politics. In the Seanad, Senator Mary Robinson began to make a name for herself, first campaigning for the preservation of Wood Quay and later campaigning during the abortion referendum in 1983. In the Áras, Erskine Childers died a year into his presidency and was succeeded by Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, who resigned two years later after a dispute with the Government.

In 1977, the Fine Gael/Labour coalition attempted a redrawing of constituencies designed to maximise their success in the coming general election. The so called "Tullymander" backfired hugely on them, with Fianna Fáil winning a record landslide victory. By the end of the 1970s, Taoiseach Jack Lynch resigned and was replaced as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader by Charles Haughey, who would prove a controversial figure in Irish politics throughout the 1980s. Fine Gael came under the leadership of Dr. Garret FitzGerald, who sought to modernise his stagnating party. In the early 1980s, the party returned strong election results, including having 6 female TDs in 1981 and 9 by the second 1982 election. More women were brought into Cabinet in this decade, with Nora Owen, Gemma Hussey, and Mary O'Rourke all becoming prominent names. Likewise, some backbenchers such as Alice Glenn made their voices heard in contemporary political debates.

In 1981 Mary Harney was elected in Dublin South West for Fianna Fáil. In 1985, she left the party to join the newly founded Progressive Democrats, maintaining a high profile throughout the decade. The PDs had four female TDs in their first general election result in 19, including future Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy, though this number dropped to two in 1989.

The status of women in Irish politics received a huge boost in 1990 when Mary Robinson, the first woman to run for the Irish presidency, became the first female Irish President. Her victory speech is particularly remembered for her dedicating it to "the women of Ireland, mná na hÉireann... who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system!"

Party Key:
FF - Fianna Fáil 
FG - Fine Gael 
Lab - Labour 
PD - Progressive Democrats



Elected:
Joan Burke - Roscommon-Leitrim (FG)
Eileen Desmond - Cork Mid (Lab)
Brigid Hogan-O'Higgins - Clare-Galway South (FG)
Celia Lynch - Dublin North Central (FF)
* 1975 by-election:
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn - Galway West (FF)


Elected:
Kit Ahern - Kerry North (FF)
Joan Burke - Roscommon-Leitrim (FG)
Síle de Valera - Dublin County Mid (FF)
Eileen Desmond - Cork Mid (Lab)
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn - Galway West (FF)
Eileen Lemass - Dublin Ballyfermot (FF)
*1979 by-election:
Myra Barry - Cork North East (FG)


Elected:
Carrie Acheson - Tipperary South (FF)
Myra Barry - Cork East (FG)
Eileen Desmond - Cork South Central (Lab)
Nuala Fennell - Dublin South (FG)
Mary Flaherty - Dublin North West (FG)
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn - Galway West (FF)
Alice Glenn - Dublin Central (FG)
Mary Harney - Dublin South West (FF)
Eileen Lemass - Dublin West (FF)
Nora Owen - Dublin North (FG)
Madeline Taylor - Clare (FG)


Elected:
Myra Barry - Cork East (FG)
Eileen Desmond - Cork South Central (Lab)
Nuala Fennell - Dublin South (FG)
Mary Flaherty - Dublin North West (FG)
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn - Galway West (FF)
Mary Harney - Dublin South West (FF)
Gemma Hussey - Wicklow (FG)
Nora Owen - Dublin North (FG)


Elected:
Monica Barnes - Dún Laoghaire (FG)
Myra Barry - Cork East (FG)
Eileen Desmond - Cork South Central (Lab)
Avril Doyle - Wexford (FG)
Nuala Fennell - Dublin South (FG)
Mary Flaherty - Dublin North West (FG)
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn - Galway West (FF)
Alice Glenn - Dublin Central (FG)
Mary Harney - Dublin South West (FF)
Gemma Hussey - Wicklow (FG)
Eileen Lemass - Dublin West (FF)
Mary O'Rourke - Longford-Westmeath (FF)
Nora Owen - Dublin North (FG)
Madeline Taylor-Quinn - Clare (FG)


Elected:
Monica Barnes - Dún Laoghaire (FG)
Anne Colley - Dublin South (PD)
Mary Coughlan - Donegal South East (FF)
Síle de Valera - Clare (FF)
Avril Doyle - Wexford (FG)
Mary Flaherty - Dublin North West (FG)
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn - Galway West (FF)
Mary Harney - Dublin South West (PD)
Gemma Hussey - Wicklow (FG)
Geraldine Kennedy - Dún Laoghaire (PD)
Mary Mooney - Dublin South Central (FF)
Mary O'Rourke - Longford-Westmeath (FF)
Máirín Quill - Cork North Central (PD)
Madeline Taylor-Quinn - Clare (FG)




Elected:
Theresa Ahearne - Tipperary South (FG)
Monica Barnes - Dún Laoghaire (FG)
Mary Coughlan - Donegal South West (FF)
Síle de Valera - Clare (FF)
Nuala Fennell - Dublin South (FG)
Mary Flaherty - Dublin North West (FG)
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn - Galway West (FF)
Mary Harney - Dublin South West (PD)
Mary O'Rourke - Longford-Westmeath (FF)
Nora Owen - Dublin North (FG)
Máirín Quill - Cork North Central (PD)
Madeline Taylor-Quinn - Clare (FG)
Mary Wallace - Meath (FF)