Women in Politics in Ireland: The Statistics

Women account for half of the Irish population, yet the percentage of women TDs had never exceeded 14 per cent, until the 2011 General Election.

Now, in February 2011, 25 women have been elected for the 31st Dáil, giving us a Dáil that is 15.1% female – a record number – previously it had never gone above 14%. This will marginally push us up the world rankings to 79th place from our previous position of 84th (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2011, www.ipu.org).

In 1990, when Mary Robinson became Ireland's first female President, Ireland was in 37th position in the world classification of women's representation in the lower or single house of national parliaments.

The Dáil has one of the highest proportions of male politicians in any national parliament in the world.

The Dáil has always been at least 85% male.

Facts relating to the History of Women in Politics in Ireland

“Lately things seem to be changing… so now again a strong tide of liberty seems to be coming towards us, swelling and growing and carrying before it all the outposts that hold women enslaved and bearing them triumphantly into the life of the nation to which they belong.”

(Constance Markievicz, Women, Ideals and the Nation, 1909)

In 1918 women achieved the right to vote in Ireland for the first time, subject to certain restrictions. The year 2008 marks the 90th anniversary of this historic event.

In the general election of December 1918, women exercised their right to vote for the first time, and elected a woman to parliament on the first occasion at which it was possible to do so. The first woman to be elected was Constance Markievicz.

Of the total 4,452 Dáil seats filled since 1918, 219 of these have been filled by women (4.9%).

Of the 1,620 Seanad seats filled since 1922, 151 of these have been filled by women (9.3%).

Of the total 6,072 Dáil and Seanad seats filled between 1919-2009, women have filled 370 of these (6.1%).

Although there are more women in parliament today than at any other time in our history, Ireland is currently ranked 79th in the world for the representation of women in national parliament (www.ipu.org, based on membership of the lower house).