The No Woman Left Behind rally fuels division as coalition women are left out

Ironically, today’s No Woman Left Behind rally, which will take place outside the gates of Leinster House, has divided women more than united them.

The National Women’s Council (NWC) described the event as a “protest rally” where they will call for political leadership and a series of speakers will address attendees.

These include a number of opposition TDs – Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, soon-to-be Labor leader Ivana Bacik, Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shortall and Solidarity People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith.

Government politicians, including Minister Josepha Madigan, were quick to question why a government representative was missing from the speaker line.

Orla O’Connor, director of the NWC, said so Irish Independent‘S The Indo Daily Newspaper Podcast that council members said they had “expressed frustration and anger” over issues including childcare during the pandemic.

“They wanted space to mobilize and send a strong message to the government that on issues like childcare and affordability, the fact that they’re paying a second mortgage is just not acceptable,” she said.

To be fair to the council, it was previously chaired by former Fine Gael tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, a former candidate for the party’s general election.

On the same podcast, Ms Fitzgerald, now MEP, said that “a lot of people” felt left out of the protest.

“When women fight among themselves, the broader issues lose out and it’s a bad place and I regret that it happened,” she said.

The Fine Gael stalwart added it was unfortunate that the divisions were emerging, especially after the country was so united following the death of schoolteacher Ashling Murphy.

But families of IRA victims and those affected by IRA abuse also questioned the event, particularly with plans for Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald to address the event.

Artist Una Heaton, sister-in-law of IRA victim Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, plans to attend the rally today and present Ms McDonald with a caricature she has drawn.

She said it was “shocking” that Ms McDonald was one of the keynote speakers.

“It’s women all the way – why shouldn’t there be full representation of women? It’s a women’s forum,” she said.

“It’s a double standard to say we’re a women’s council and then we’re going to exclude so many. This is totally wrong and not fair.”

Ann Travers, whose sister was shot dead by a makeshift IRA gunman while walking home from Mass in 1984, said she found Sinn Féin’s speech, Mary Lou McDonald, at the rally “quite upsetting”.

“As President of Sinn Féín, she continues to justify and celebrate the killers who murdered so many women in Northern Ireland, including my sister, during the Troubles,” Ms Travers said.

Former senator and IRA abuse victim Máiría Cahill said she also had “difficulty” with women being excluded from the coalition and criticized Ms McDonald’s performance at the event.

“They have ignored every victim of IRA abuse in relation to this because they are slamming a woman who said this campaign was justified,” she said.

Sinn Féin did not respond to a request for comment.

Ironically, what may have been a well-intentioned protest rally has ultimately created division and controversy among women — the exact opposite of what it initially created. The No Woman Left Behind rally fuels division as coalition women are left out

Fry Electronics Team

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