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UK government will commemorate the election of republican Countess Markievicz next December

Constance Markievicz was sentenced to death for her part in the 1916 Rising, but her life was spared because she was a woman.

THE UK GOVERNMENT has confirmed that a specific event will be held in December 2018 to commemorate 100 years since the election of Countess Markievicz to its parliament.

Earlier this year, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that a centenary celebration next year was warranted to mark the role women have played in the House of Commons.

Answering a question from fellow Conservative Party member Nicky Morgan, May acknowledged that it was important to mark the centenary of the first female member to be elected to the House of Commons.

“…I think it is important that we mark the centenary next year and recognise the role that women have played in this House and in their time in the area of public life.”

Though Markievicz, who was a republican and Sinn Féin member, wasn’t mentioned by name as the first woman elected, a spokesperson for the House of Commons has confirmed to TheJournal.ie that she will feature in Westminster commemorations next year.

Although the specifics haven’t been decided yet, the spokesperson said “We will be featuring a segment on Countess Markievicz in our summer Voice and Vote exhibition in Westminster Hall, and there will be something specific in December to mark the centenary”.

Constance Markievicz played a prominent role in the 1916 Rising and was sentenced to death afterwards, although her life was spared because she was a woman from a privileged, well-known family.

Markievicz was the first woman to be elected to the  House of Commons in a general election held in December 1918, but, as a Sinn Féin candidate with a policy of abstentionism, she didn’t take her seat in Westminster.

She was the first female minister in the Ireland’s first Dáil, and the second woman in the world to hold a Cabinet position as Minister for Labour from 1919 – 1922.

She died in a public hospital ward in July 1927; Éamon de Valera was among those at her bedside at the time of her death.

The Vote100 celebrations are being held in the UK throughout the year to remember the mark women have left on politics, and in the hope that it will encourage other women to become legislators.

In Ireland, similar celebrations will take place here. The Vótáil100 will include a showcase of artefacts from the suffragette movement, a youth debate in Seanad Éireann, and a National Gallery exhibition about Countess Markievicz.

The 21 November 2018 will also mark 100 years since the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 permitted in law that “a woman shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage for being elected to, or sitting or voting as, a Member of the Commons House of Parliament”.

TheJournal.ie has asked the Irish government whether it is liaising with the UK government on how to commemorate the centenary of Countess Markievicz’s election.

Read: Markievicz exhibit among celebration of 100 years since women’s right to vote

Read: Theresa May wants to honour the first woman elected to House of Commons – republican Countess Markievicz

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