7 March 2018
By Bryan Smyth
In Ireland it is local authorities that manage the electoral register, so it is apt that one of them – Cork County Council – is marking 100 years since Women in Ireland were given the right to vote. In 1918 Ireland was part of the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” and the vote was granted across all jurisdictions in the UK.
The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland. It is sometimes known as the Fourth Reform Act. This act was the first to include all men over 21 years old in the political system, but only women over 30 who held £5 of property, or had husbands who did. It extended the franchise by 5.6 million menand 8.4 million women, and legislated a number of new practices in elections, including making residency in a specific constituency the basis of the right to vote, institutionalising the first-past-the-post method of election and rejecting proportional representation.
As can be seen from the extract; not all women, or indeed men, could vote, but it was a massive improvement.
Tomorrow – International Women’s Day, 8th March 2018 – The Cork County Council Library Service will host a panel discussion to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, looking at the role women play in the modern social and political order, both in Ireland and Internationally.
In the context of that historic victory and the sacrifices that were made to achieve it, a reflection on the roles of women in society today is timely. Author Denyse Woods will chair a discussion which, among other topics, will look at the level of engagement of women in traditional politics, in democracy and in the wider social system. The panellists will be Fiona Finn, Chief Executive Officer of NASC, Colette Sheridan, Journalist, Rola Abu Zeid-O’Neill, Lecturer in Women’s Studies, Centre for Adult Continuing Education, UCC, and Liz Maddox, Chairperson of the Older People’s Council in Co Cork.
This interesting and thought-provoking discussion will take place, appropriately, in the Council Chamber at County Hall, Cork, at 12.30pm on Thursday 8th March, and is one of a number of events that Cork County Library is organising during 2018 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage. The event is FREE, but places are limited, so please book early by contacting at 021 454 6499 or firstname.lastname@example.org