Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Sam Boal/ Opposition TDs have been invited to speak at the Leinster House rally next month. (File)
No Woman Left Behind

NWC says protest rally is 'for government to listen' as coalition reps cry foul over 'exclusion'

The National Women’s Council is holding a rally outside Leinster House on 5 March.

THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S COUNCIL (NWC) has said a rally planned next month is “for the government to listen” following criticism from female government TDs that they are being excluded from the event.

The NWC is holding a rally outside Leinster House on 5 March a number of days before International Women’s Day.

The title of the rally is ‘No Woman Left Behind’ and the NWC last week announced that several politicians would be speaking. 

Politicians listed to speak at the rally include Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD, the Social Democrats’ Róisín Shortall TD, Labour’s Ivana Bacik TD and Bríd Smith TD of People Before Profit. 

Following those announcements, Fine Gael’s Leader of the Seanad Regina Doherty tweeted the lineup of speakers ”excludes the entire female population with political views of the centre or centre right”. 

Doherty also criticised the lack of ethnic diversity among the speakers initially announced by the NWC.

Fianna Fáil Senator Erin McGreehan said it was “shocking” that “the work done by women in government” was being ignored. 

Speaking to The Journal, Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery-Kearney she “pays a subscription” to the NWC and that she was “a little bit surprised and disappointed” that government parties were not included in the line-up of speakers. 

Asked whether there had been any contact with the NWC about the rally, she said there was “some discussions” but that “no progress was made”. 

Seery-Kearney argued that the NWC should be non-political and that the rally as it’s currently envisaged is “partisan”.

“Before the last general election, the NWC’s chair was Ellen O’Malley Dunlop and she ran as a candidate for Fine Gael. She did the right thing, the absolute integrity thing, for the non-position of the National Women’s Council by stepping down because she was a candidate for one political party. So that is the appropriate thing for any NGO,” she said.

Protest rally

In a statement about the upcoming event, the NWC says it is a “crucial time for the government to listen” and that the group regularly engages with government politicians.  

“The National Women’s Council is organising this protest rally to bring together women from across Ireland on the key issues women face, and we believe this is a crucial time for the government to listen to what women have to say,” the NWC said.

Violence against women is an epidemic, women remain the carers in Ireland with minimal shift in our culture of care, our childcare costs are among the highest in Europe, and lone parents, the majority of whom are women, are most impacted by the housing crisis and are the group most at risk of deprivation.

The NWC has also highlighted the current dispute over the over the ownership of the National Maternity Hospital and the ongoing review of abortion legislation

“We engage with government politicians every day and have had numerous events every year in NWC where government ministers are opening the event and government TDs and Senators are speaking on panels. This is one moment of protest and we welcome all politicians including government to hear what needs to change for women,” the NWC said in its statement. 

Asked by The Journal whether she would go to the rally as an attendee, Seery-Kearney said this is something she would have to “consider” because of “the implied statement about the women in government parties”. 

Other women who were listed to speak during last week’s speaker announcement include pro-choice activist Ailbhe Smyth and Noeline Blackwell of the Rape Crisis Centre. 

Seery-Kearney said she and other government TD would “stand alongside” those women even if they were “giving out to government”. 

Asked would stand alongside Sinn Féin leader McDonald if she was making a speech, Seery-Kearney said she would only do so if government TDs were also asked to speak.


Following the initial announcement of speakers last week, a number of people had questioned why there were no women from ethnic minorities or disability groups included.

The NWC said that speakers from migrant, disabled and LGBT communities had been invited and included and that speakers were only announced once they were confirmed. 

An “updated speaker list” shared three days after the first announcement included women from varied ethnic backgrounds. 

A full list of speakers is available on the Women’s Rally page

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel