50:50 North West: Proud to Celebrate 100 Years Of Women’s Suffrage


Monday, 19th November 2018.  The Model, Sligo


10.00am          Registration and refreshments

10.30am          Welcome and introductions

10.45am          Opening remarks:  Marian Harkin MEP


Helen Pankhurst and Michelle Sheehy Skeffington

In conversation with

Carole Coleman, RTE Broadcaster

Q & A

12.30               Lunch

1.30                 100 YEARS ON … WHERE ARE WE NOW?

A panel will discuss women and politics today, particularly in rural constituencies and will include:

  • TDs: Martin Kenny, Catherine Martin, Joe McHugh & Marc McSharry
  • Councillors: Sinéad Guckian, Niamh Kennedy and Sinéad Maguire.
  • Fiona Buckley, University College Cork

Chair:  Alison O’Connor, journalist and broadcaster

3.30                 A REFLECTION … Michael Harding, novelist and playwright

3.50                 Closing remarks

Tickets €15 (includes a light lunch) available online at

https://5050northwest.eventbrite.ie Booking essential.

For further information email: 5050northwest@gmail.com

Please note programme may be subject to change.


MARIAN HARKIN is an Independent MEP representing the Midlands-North-West Constituency of Ireland in the European Parliament since 2004. Her constituency encompasses 15 counties, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Galway, Mayo, Cavan, Monaghan, Longford, Westmeath, Louth, Meath, Laois, Offaly and Kildare.  Marian is a member of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, a substitute member on the Economic and Monetary Affairs and substitute member of the Petitions Committees. Her legislative work has included the EU Globalisation Fund, rapporteurship of the Employment Committee´s Opinion on Recommendations on the negotiations for the TTIP as well as following files on the Accessibility Act, the Disability Strategy and the framework agreement on parental leave. Currently Marian’s EMPL dossiers include the Regulation 2004/883 on Social Security, the creation of a European Labour Authority and the next EU Globalisation Fund, among others. As well as her legislative work, Marian has a deep interest in Social and Public Health issues. She is Chair and founding member of both the Carers Interest Group and the Volunteering Interest Group and is Vice Chair of the Mental Health Group and the Brain, Mind and Pain Group. Marian is co-chair of the Credit Union Interest Group and is also a member of the MEP Heart Group and the MEPs against Cancer Group. 

HELEN PANKHURST  is an author, a women’s rights activist and an international development practitioner. Helen studied at Sussex University, Vassar College, New York, and Edinburgh University and has an honorary degree from Edge Hill University. She is a Visiting Professor at MMU and (from December 2018) the First Chancellor of the University of Suffolk. Helen is a Senior Advisor for CARE International, based in the UK and in Ethiopia. She previously worked for other international development charities including WaterAid, Womankind Worldwide and ACORD. She is currently a Trustee of ActionAid. The great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders of the British suffragette movement, Helen carries on the legacy. This includes undertaking re-enactment work for current-day awareness-raising including at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, the 2015 film Suffragette, leading CARE International’s annual #March4Women event ahead of International Women’s Day in London and launching the Centenary Action Group. She has worked with the composer Lucy Pankhurst, on the lyrics of the Emmeline Anthem commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and in 2018 published the book: Deeds Not Words, the Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now.   @helenPankhurst

MICHELINE SHEEHY SKEFFINGTON is Hanna and Francis Sheehy Skeffington’s granddaughter. They were very active in early 20th century Ireland campaigning for women’s suffrage and advocating an independent socialist Ireland. Micheline has given many talks about them, recently touring the US following Hanna’s 1917/18 tour and filming for a documentary: Hanna and Me. Inspired by her grandparents, Micheline took – and won- a gender discrimination case against NUI Galway at the Equality Tribunal in November 2014.

CAROLE COLEMAN  is an RTE broadcaster.  She currently presents and reports for This Week – Ireland’s oldest radio news show, on RTE Radio One each Sunday. Carole has held a number of positions in RTE including Environment & Education Correspondent and Washington Correspondent.  She has reported from all corners of the world and is the author of two books on American culture and politics. Her writing has appeared in the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Leitrim Guardian and Leitrim Observer. Carole also supports local jobs and diaspora initiatives in her native Carrick-on-Shannon where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

FIONA BUCKLEY is a lecturer in the Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork (UCC), specialising in gender politics. She is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), being conferred with a Phd in Political Science in 2016. Her research is largely focused on women in politics, in particular gender quotas, women’s candidate emergence, and women, gender and cabinet government. Fiona is a founding member of the 5050 Group, a single issue national advocacy group dedicated to achieving equal representation in Irish politics. Fiona’s work has been published in a number of leading political science journals and books, and she is co-editor of Electoral Management: Institutions and Practices in an Established Democracy (Routledge, 2017), Politics and Gender in Ireland: The Quest for Political Agency (Routledge, 2015) and The Road to 5050: Gender Quotas for Ireland (2012). Fiona’s work has been cited in parliamentary debates in Ireland and Canada. She has appeared before parliamentary committees in hearings on the electoral system and women in politics; addressed meetings of political parties, both at parliamentary and national conference level; and acted as State expert witness in the January 2016 High Court constitutional challenge to gender quotas in Ireland.

CATHERINE MARTIN is the Green Party T.D. for the constituency of Dublin Rathdown since February 2016 and previously served on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. She is the Deputy Leader and Education Spokesperson for the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas. She is also the founder and inaugural Chair of the Oireachtas Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. She organised the first ever International Congress of Parliamentary Caucuses in Dublin Castle in September 2018. She sits on the Oireachtas Education and Future of Mental Health Care Committees.

NIAMH KENNEDY was first elected to Donegal County Council as an Independent Councillor in 2014. From Killybegs, Niamh is Vice-chair of Donegal ETB, Vice- chair of Donegal Joint Policing Committee and Vice-chair of Donegal MD Board of LYIT. She is also a member of two Strategic Policy Committees – the Planning and economic development committee and the Environment and fire services committee. Niamh is also Chairperson of Killybegs Community Employment Scheme and a board member of Aislann Kilcar Niamh is a a Director of Marine Fleet electronics Ltd., her husband’s company.

SINÉAD GUCKIAN, a  native of County Leitrim, is an elected member of Leitrim County Council since 1999 and has held the position of Cathaoirleach on two occasions to date. Sinéad holds a third level qualification in a number of areas including, Information Technology, Fine Art and Purchasing & Materials Management. Having worked previously, in the public and private sector, Sinéad has gained an understanding and an ability to deal with many of the issues we face today and is well equipped to find solutions to these challenges. Sinéad is an active member of many of the voluntary organisations in her area and continues to be a strong representative voice for these groups.

JOE McHUGH TD is Government Chief Whip and has recently been appointed as the new Minister for Education.  Prior to this he was the Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands.  Deputy McHugh was elected as a Fine Gael TD to represent Donegal in Dáil Eireann in 2007, 2011 and 2016.   He previously was a member of Seanad Eireann 2002-2007.  He served as Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development 2016 to 2017, Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs & Natural Resources 2014 to 2016 having served as co-chairperson of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly and Chairperson of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.  He lives in Donegal with his wife Olwyn and their three children.

MARC McSHARRY is  a Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo, Leitrim, South Donegal and North Roscommon. He served as a Senator from July 2002 – February 2016 where through the years he served as party spokesman for the Marine, Finance, Health and Public Expenditure. His political career to date has included serving as a member of the Forum on Europe, and of Oireachtas committees on Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, Health, and Finance; he has also served on the Committee of Inquiry into The Banking Crisis and on the Houses of Oireachtas Commission. He was elected to Dail Eireann in February 2016 and is currently a member of the Dáil’s Committee of Public Accounts.

SINÉAD MAGUIRE works as a solicitor with a strong human rights base, practising in the areas of mental health, child care and the environment. She was elected as a first time candidate for Fine Gael to Sligo County Council in 2014 and has been selected to run in the next general election. Sinéad serves on the board of the Hawkswell Theatre, Sligo Maritime Company, Sligo Jazz Festival and was the first female chair of Irish Central Border Area Network. Sinéad chairs the Local Community Development Committee, the Peace Committee and the Social Inclusion Activation Programme and is a member of the Sligo Economic Forum. She is married to local musician Kieran Quinn, they have two young children.

ALISON O’CONNOR is a journalist, broadcaster and author. Her work as a political columnist involves regular commentary on current affairs on radio and television. She has a weekly column in The Irish Examiner. She is a feminist.

MICHAEL HARDING is a poet, playwright and novelist. Many of his plays have been produced by the Abbey Theatre and his novels include Priest, The Trouble With Sarah Gullion, and Bird In The Snow.  He has received numerous awards for his writing and theatre work, including the Steward Parker Award for Theatre,(1990), the Bank of Ireland RTE award for excellence in the arts, ( 1990 ) and the Hennessy Award for short stories.He was Writer in Association with The National Theatre in 1993 , was short listed for the Irish Times Aer Lingus Literature Award in 1989, and was Writer in Residence at Trinity College in 1999. In an innovative column in the Irish Times he has been chronicling ordinary life in midland Ireland for over a decade through memoir, story, fictions and metafiction, and the project has also evolved into four volumes of best selling memoir; –  Staring at Lakes, / Hanging with the Elephant, / Talking to Strangers, / On Tuesday’s I’m a Buddhist.  This commitment to story and memory is an all encompassing project to reshape the traditional concept of Seanchas and Dinnseanchas, from the ancient tradition, into a modern mould that embodies contemporary experience and is available on various platforms in diverse media. He is a member of Aosdana.



The 50-50 Group Seeking Equal Political Representation

50 per cent of Ireland’s population is female. Yet, little over 22 per cent of the Dáil consists of women. This places Ireland 82nd (out of 189 ranked positions) on a world classification list compiled by the Inter- Parliamentary Union (2017)[1].

Our Vision of Change

Gender parity in Irish politics

 Who we are?

  • The 50-50 Group is a single issue national advocacy group dedicated to achieving equal representation in Irish politics.
  • The 50-50 Group is a fully inclusive organisation and politically non-aligned provided parties support gender equality.
  • The 50-50 Group welcomes both men and women as members.
  • The 50-50 Group endorses both male and female candidates who support measures to redress the under-representation of women in the Irish Parliament (Oireachtas).
  • The 50-50 Group believes that the under-representation of women in Irish politics is an affront to the democratic ideals of justice and equality.

 What we do?

  • Advocate for the implementation of measures to redress the gender imbalance of Irish politics.
  • Support the Candidate Selection Gender Quota legislation adopted by the Oireachtas in 2012. This requires all political parties in receipt of state funding to select at least 30% women candidates and 30% male candidates. This was recommended by the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Women in Politics which reported in November 2009.
  • Lobby to extend the legislative gender quota to Local Elections by amending the Electoral Act 1997, Art 17 Sec 3, to allocate state funding to qualified parties based on their first preference vote at the preceding general electionand the preceding local election (e.g. 60-40 split). This would allow for a minimum 30% gender quota for the 2019 local elections and 40% for the 2024 local elections.

 Why gender quotas for local elections?

  • Analysis of Irish elections reveals that previ­ous experience in local office is a key springboard to higher office for both men and women[2].
  • However, few women have an opportunity to harness their local office experience and associated skills (such as building local networks and enhancing name recognition) as men are over-represented in Irish local government. Currently men make up 79% of local councillors.
  • Not all political parties are successful in meeting voluntary gender targets. For the 2014 local elections, neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael reached their self-imposed voluntary gender quotas of 33% and 25% respectively[3].
  • International research shows that the adoption of electoral gender quotas is associated with increases in the overall quality of female and male politicians elected and those women elected via a gender quota are no less qualified than their non-quota colleagues[4].

For further information please email: 

cfinncork@gmail.com or buckleyfmh@gmail.com or edelmclancy@gmail.com or clancy.noirin@gmail.com

Follow the Group’s activities on our blog site: http://5050-group.com/blog

Twitter: www.twitter.com/5050-group

Facebook: www.facebook.com/The5050Group

[1] http://archive.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm (accessed 8 November 2017)

[2] Fiona Buckley, Mack Mariani, Claire McGing, and Timothy J. White (2015) ‘Is Local Office a Spring­board for Women to Dáil Éireann?’ Journal of Women, Politics and Policy Vol.36, No.3, pp. 311–35.

[3] Just 17% of Fianna Fáil’s candidates were women. The corresponding proportion for Fine Gael was 23%.

[4] For example see: Paulo Júlio and José Tavares (2017) ‘The Good, the Bad and the Different: Can Gender Quotas Raise the Quality of Politicians?’ Economica, Vol 84, No 335, pp. 454–479 and Allen, Peter; David Cutts and Rosie Campbell (2016) ‘Measuring the quality of politicians elected via gender quotas – are they any different?’ Political Studies, Vol. 64, No 1, pp.143-163