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Markievicz exhibit among celebration of 100 years since women's right to vote

Republican leader Markievicz will also be celebrated in the UK as the first woman elected to the UK House of Commons.

Image: William Murphy/Flickr/CC

THE HOUSES OF the Oireachtas has announced a programme of cultural events to mark a century since women in Ireland were first given the right to vote and run in parliamentary elections.

This day next year will 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”.

Women were allowed to run for election for the first time in the general election in December 1918; Sinn Féin candidate Countess Markievicz was the first and only woman to win a seat (although she didn’t take it, as the parliament sat in Westminster at the time).

The commemoration, called Vótáil 100, will include a showcase of artefacts from the suffragette movement, a youth debate in Seanad Éireann, and a National Gallery exhibition about Countess Markievicz.

In a similar commemoration, Theresa May announced that the first female member of the UK parliament would be honoured next year.

90414716_90414716 Two of a set of eight buttons embroidered by Countess Markievicz when she was in Holloway Prison. Source: Mark Stedman via RollingNews.ie

Although she didn’t mention the member by name, by process of elimination it should be Countess Markievicz, a leading figure in the republican movement in Ireland.

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

The UK’s parliamentary committee Vote100 series, has organised a major exhibition for summer 2018 in Westminster Hall to celebrate its female representatives.

VOTAIL100 MX-7 Vótáil 100 committee members Catherine Martin, Pat The Cope Gallagher, Ivana Bacik, Denis O’Donovan, Alice Mary Higgins, and Fiona O’Loughlin. Source: Tony Maxwell

Chairperson of the Vótáil 100 committee Ivana Bacik said that she was “delighted” with the celebrations being organised for the centenary next year.

We hope that our Vótáil 100 programme will encourage and inspire more women to become politically involved, and will remind us all about the importance of the right to vote.

Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Senator Denis O’Donovan said that the programme of events would “highlight the impact of wider voting rights, the history of the suffrage movement and its leaders in Ireland and of the representation of women in parliament”.

Leas Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Pat The Cope Gallagher said that a full programme of events would be announced in the New Year.

“Irish women were finally allowed to vote in the 1918 general election after winning that right on this day 99 years ago… It is fitting that today we announce our intentions to celebrate and commemorate this event over the course of next year.”

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

Read: ‘People really loved her’: 90th anniversary of Countess Markievicz’s funeral to be commemorated

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