Motion... Cllr Emer Tóibín.

Cllrs’ call on Govt to ‘copper-fasten’ women’s identity

The words woman, maternal and motherhood should never be diminished or deleted from the country’s laws, Meath county councillors decided this week.

The council has called on the Government to copper-fasten women’s identity in all future legislation. A notice of motion to this effect was tabled by Aontú Cllr Emer Tóibín and seconded by Independent Cllr Gillian Toole at Monday’s meeting of the council and it was passed by a majority but led to an animated debate.

An amendment put by Fine Gael Cllr Sharon Tolan that the call to copper-fasten women’s identity should include the words “transgender women” was defeated.

Social Democrat Cllr Ronan Moore – said Cllr Tóibín’s motion was “an unnecessary and divisive distraction” from the important issues currently affecting Meath’s residents.

He said “It’s time we get back to the bread and butter issues that really matter to people instead of spending time on a clearly divisive motion that the council has ultimately no power over”.

Voting on the amendment and on the original motion came towards the close of the meeting when 17 of the councillors were absent.

Cllr Tóibín said she had tabled a similar motion in October 2022 to include the words woman, female and mother in legislation. Attempts were being made at that time to remove those words from maternity leave legislation. Following a public outcry these words were restored in legislation, she said.

She said she had tried to submit the motion for the March meeting of the council but the protocol committee said at that stage that it was still awaiting advice on the matter. She said that copper-fastening the terms woman, female and motherhood in future legislation relating to women’s rights was “essential” to give rights and protection to women.

“As a woman I am proud to be a woman and I am proud of the women who blazed a trail before me. How would the suffragettes feel if 100 years after women got the vote that women in Ireland were trying to ensure that women in Ireland were not being written out of legislation and the Constitution?”

Referring to the result of the recent Referendum had taken the Government and Opposition by surprise. “These words matter. They matter today more than ever”.

She appealed to councillors to reflect the wishes of the electorate as expressed in last month’s Referendum.

An amendment put by Cllr Sharon Tolan and seconded by Cllr Gerry O’Connor to include the words “transgender women” in the original motion was rejected and the matter was put to a vote. Cllr Tolan’s amendment was defeated by 12 vote to 10 (and one abstention) with 17 councillors absent. Cllr Tóibín’s motion was then put to the councillors and it was passed by 15 voted to eight with 17 councillors absent.