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Since the foundation of the state only 15 women have served at Cabinet.Even more remarkable is the gap between the first and second female Ministers. In 1919, Countess Constance Markievicz was appointed Minister for Labour. It was another 60 years before another woman would serve in Cabinet; Maire Geoghegan-Quinn who was appointed in 1979 during the 21st Dáil. As Countess Markievicz served as Minister for Labour in the first and second Dáils, this means that for 18 Dáils, no women sat at cabinet.


It was only in January 1993 and the 27th Dáil before more than one woman at a time sat at cabinet when Maire Geoghegan-Quinn served as Justice Minister and Niamh Bhreathnach as Minister for Education.

On the 15th of December 2015 Women for Election ran a social media
campaign #womenincabinet to  acknowledge the 15 trail blazing women who have contributed so much to public life and to politics in our country.

The number of women serving in the cabinet is reflective of the number of women who have been elected in the history of the state as only 95 women of the 1242 TDs ever elected have been women.

That’s why Women for Election have called on party leaders to appoint a 50:50 cabinet at the formation of the next government. It is essential that women’s voices, their experience and perspectives are heard at the centre of power and decision making. A 50:50 cabinet would send a powerful message about the commitment to rebalance the gender disparity in our politics and change the face of our Government. It is a unique opportunity to build on the success of the gender quota for selection.


Constance Markievicz 

Minister for Labour – appointed 2nd April 1919 (1st Dáil)

Maire Geoghegan Quinn
Aire na Gaeltachta – appointed 12th December 1979 (21st Dáil)

Eileen Desmond 
Minister for Health and Minister for Social Welfare – appointed 30th June 1981 (22nd Dáil)

Gemma Hussey
Minister for Education – appointed 14th  December 1982 (24th Dáil)

Mary O’Rourke
Minister for Education – appointed 10th March 1987 (25th Dáil)

Niamh Bhreathnach 
Minister for Education appointed – 12 January 1993 (27th Dáil)

Nora Owen 
Minister for Justice – appointed 15 December 1994 (27th Dáil)

Sile de Valera 
Minister for Arts Culture and the Gaeltacht – appointed 26 June 1997 (28th Dáil)

Mary Harney 
Tánaiste and Minster for Enterprise Employment – appointed 26 June 1997 (28th Dáil)

Mary Coughlan          
Minister for Social and Family Affairs – appointed 6 June 2002 (29th Dáil)

Mary Hanafin
Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach – appointed 6 June 2002 and at the Department of Defence – appointed 18 June 2002 (29th Dáil)

Joan Burton
Minister for Social Protection and Tanaiste – appointed 09 March 2011 (31st Dáil)

Frances Fitzgerald
14 April 2011 – 08 May 2014: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs –appointed 14th April 2011 (31st Dáil)

Heather Humphreys 
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht – appointed 11 July 2014 (31st Dáil)

Jan O’Sullivan 
Minister for Education and Skills – appointed 11 July 2014 (31st Dáil)