Jason Murphy: ‘The women of Ireland have been disgracefully overlooked’
Jason Murphy (Fianna Fáil) has proposed that the Outer Ring Road be re-titled ‘Cumman na mBan Ring Road’ in honour of the women’s movement which was founded in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin on April 2nd 1914.
“It would be a fitting tribute to name a major artery such as the Outer Ring Road after Cumman na mBan as a constant reminder to present and future generations of the courageous sacrifice made by the women of Ireland in the foundation of our State,” said Cllr Murphy
Widely acknowledged as the country’s most influential women’s group, Cumann na mBan was built on two ideological platforms: feminism and nationalism, and its efforts were recognised at a series of events held to mark the centenary of its founding in Dublin last year.
“It is nothing short of a national disgrace, the lack of proper recognition of the crucial role women played in the independence struggle during this pivotal period in our history,” said Cllr Murphy. “It’s also worth noting how few public buildings, parks, or roads are named after women or women’s organisations in this country. This is extremely short sighted given the vital role women have played in the development of our society.”
According to Cllr Murphy, who raised the issue at last (Monday) night’s Metropolitan District meeting at City Hall, Cumann na mBan played a key role in the 1916 Rising.
“The majority of the women worked as Red Cross workers, acted as couriers and procured rations for the men. Members of Cumann na mBan also gathered intelligence on scouting expeditions, carried despatches and transferred arms from dumps across the city to volunteer strongholds.”
Cumann members, including Constance Markievicz for example fought along side the Irish Volunteers and the citizens army during the opening phase of the hostilities. Another member of Cumann na mBan, Helena Moloney was among those who attacked Dublin Castle, while another member of the organisation, volunteer Margaretta Keogh, was shot dead outside the South Dublin Union.
Following the Rising, under the leadership of Countess Markievicz, Cumann na mBan helped to secure the vote for women (albeit aged 30 and upwards) come the 1918 general election, when Sinn Féin won 73 seats out of the 105 then available.
It’s worth bearing in mind that women did not win the right to vote in France until 1944, Germany until 1945, with Switzerland and Portugal not granting such suffrage until 1971 and 1976 respectively. Saudi Arabian women are due to win the right to vote this year.
Countess Markievicz, who was imprisoned at the time of the election, was elected as TD for Dublin South, also becoming the first female MP ever elected in a British plebiscite.
She was appointed as Minster for Labour (a brief she held until 1922), the first woman to ever hold a ministerial brief in Europe. Indeed, and lamentably, some 60 years would pass before Maire Geoghegan Quinn became the next woman to hold Irish ministerial office.
In 1926, the Countess was a founding member of the Fianna Fáil party and chaired its very first meeting.
Jason Murphy hoped that his proposal would win the support of fellow Metropolitan District Councillors at a meeting which was ongoing as we went to press.