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Conway-Walsh hails achievements of Countess Markievicz at Westminster commemoration

18 July, 2018 - by Rose Conway-Walsh

Sinn Féin senator Rose Conway-Walsh, along with her Sinn Féin MP colleagues Michelle Gildernew and Mickey Brady today attended the unveiling of a portrait of the Sinn Féin abstentionist MP Countess Markievicz in Westminster 100 years after the Enactment of the Representation of the People Act which gave some women in Britain and Ireland a vote in the December general election  

The portrait was presented to Speaker John Bercow in the Palace of Westminster and the portrait will remain on display in Westminster until October as part of the Houses of Parliament’s Vote 100 celebrations. The gifting of the portrait is part of the Vótáil 100 celebrations organised by a cross party committee of female parliamentarians in the Oireachtas.

Speaking after the ceremony the Mayo senator said:

“I am delighted to be here to honour for the first time the amazing achievement of Countess Markievicz in the institution to which she was elected yet refused to take her seat in, honouring her election pledge. Out of 17 women candidates that stood in the 1918 election Countess Markievicz was the only successful one. In winning her seat Countess Markievicz sent a message that even though women only had limited suffrage they would not be by standers to the political process and the process of change.

I was proud to be accompanied by fellow capable female politicians from the Houses of the Oireachtas at the occasion and delighted to see the result of many months of planning for our own Vótáil 100 celebrations in Ireland. Today’s unveiling honours the achievements of a woman who showed that rights which are hard won must be utilised. She showed that gaining the vote was only the first step in achieving political change and progress.

The life of Countess Markievicz embodied the complex relations between our islands. Tonight’s event is recognition of her electoral achievement and of her contribution to the subsequent phase of political struggle to achieve Irish freedom and independence. I want to thank the authorities in the Houses of Parliament for organising this evening’s event which plays its own role in the continuing changing and developing of relationships between our islands.

MP Michelle Gildernew has also welcomed the recognition of the political contribution of Countess Constance Markievicz. She commented,


“As the second female Sinn Féin abstentionist MP elected to Westminster, I am delighted to be here today to see Countess Markievicz recognised and celebrated as the first female MP elected to Westminster. Constance Markievicz was a revolutionary, a feminist, a socialist and an abstentionist Irish MP. I am profoundly grateful to carry forward her radical political and social agenda.”

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