Since the foundation of the state only 19 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.



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
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs –appointed 14th April 2011 (31st Dáil)
Minister for Justice and Equality – appointed 11 July 2014 (32nd Dáil)
Minister for Enterprise and Innovation – appointed June 14th 2017 (32nd Dáil)

Heather Humphreys 
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht – appointed 11 July 2014 (31st Dáil)
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation – appointed 20th November (32nd Dáil)

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

Mary Mitchell O’Connor 
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation – appointed May 6th 2016 (32nd  Dáil)

Katherine Zappone
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs – appointed May 6th 2016 (32nd  Dáil)

Regina Doherty
Minister for Employment and Social Protection – appointed June 14th, 2017 (32nd  Dáil)

Josepha Madigan
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – appointed November 30th, 2017 (32nd Dáil)