Only 10% of those who have sat at the cabinet table in Ireland in almost 100 years have been women, totalling just 19 female politicians. Along with the two former female Presidents of Ireland, all of the living members of this exclusive club are interviewed here for the first time, collectively bringing together their voices to reveal the challenges and triumphs of getting to the top table of Irish political life.
The interviewees are Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese, Máire Geoghegan Quinn, Gemma Hussey, Mary O’Rourke, Nora Owen, Niamh Bhreathnach, Mary Harney, Síle de Valera, Mary Coughlan, Mary Hanafin, Joan Burton, Frances Fitzgerald, Jan O’Sullivan, Heather Humphreys, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Katherine Zappone, Regina Doherty and Josepha Madigan.
From the battles to have their voices heard, to balancing a career with family life, dealing with various levels of sexism and an enduring focus on appearance, their personal stories are dramatic, colourful and inspiring. In opening up about how they secured a place at the top table of political life, these women give us remarkable insights into a changing Ireland.
’A fascinating and compelling read that couldn’t be more timely.’ Miriam O’Callaghan
‘A timely and important contribution to the contemporary reflection on women’s historic and future place in Irish society and public life.’ Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman.
Martina Fitzgerald is political correspondent with RTÉ News & Current Affairs. From her base in Leinster House she has reported on all major political news stories in recent years, including several general elections and referendums. She studied history and politics at UCD where she was auditor of the Politics Society.