Politics and society teacher, Ronan Brady, Senator Lisa Chambers, Mairead O’Shea, communications manager with See Her Elected, Cllr Stephen McKee and Phoebe Igoe, at Eureka Secondary School for the See Her Elected Schools’ Roadshow.

See Her Elected brings roadshow to Kells

The See Her Elected Schools Roadshow was at Eureka Secondary School in Kells recently. The Government-funded project which aims to encourage women from rural areas to engage in local politics recently rolled out the roadshow in a bid to encourage more young women to see politics as a possible career path. The Schools’ Roadshow is part of a political education series which hopes to encourage diversity in county council chambers in rural areas throughout the country.

Communications manager with See Her Elected, Mairead O’Shea, brought the roadshow to Kells in a bid to encourage discussion around the need for more young women and more diversity in the make-up of county councils. Mairead was joined by Senator Lisa Chambers of Mayo, Fianna Fáil deputy Leader in Seanad Éireann, and spokesperson on European and Foreign Affairs, who is a potential candidate for the party in the European Parliament elections. The former Fianna Fáil Brexit frontbench spokesperson who shared her real-life experience of politics.

Meath county councillor, Stephen McKee, who is a teacher at the school organised the event.

“We want to see more diversity in our rural county council chambers," Mairead O'Shea stated. "As it stands, there are very few women councillors and virtually no representation of minority communities. Our aim is to increase the numbers of women in local politics in rural counties where anything from 78 per cent to 95 per cent of the elected local authority councillors are men. We need our chambers to be more reflective of society and we need to see more women in politics in order to have more balanced decision making."

The students in Eureka Secondary School were very interested in the presentation and they had lots of questions and there was great engagement. Meath has 14 female councillors out of 40 which is relatively good compared to other parts of the country. The first woman elected to Meath County Council was Fianna Fáil’s Margaret Murray from the Dunshaughlin area in 1934. When Margaret lost her seat in 1942 there was no woman elected to the council in Meath for another 32 years, when Fine Gael’s Bridget Hogan was elected in 1974.

"The first woman wasn’t elected to the Kells Electoral area until 1999 with Liz McCormack from Athboy, who also went on to be the first female cathaoirleach in 2008,” explained Mairead.

“Many fifth and sixth year students will be able to vote in the next local elections in 2024 so they are the ideal age group to address and the feedback and positive engagement from students has been fantastic. We have lots of information to share and some great videos and each presentation is tailored to the specific county,” said Mairead.

In recent months See Her Elected published ‘A Guide to Running in the 2024 Local Elections’ which is a user-friendly guide to running for election. The organisation was crowned winners in the Democracy category of the Innovation in Politics Award by the EU in Brussels last December, a first for Ireland.

Schools interested in having the See Her Elected Schools’ Roadshow visit their school can email communications@seeherelected.ie for more information. See Her Elected run regular online classes and workshops to support women who may be planning to run for election in 2024 or indeed women who want to become part of a team to help another woman get elected.