Seanad debates

Wednesday, 6 March 2024

International Women's Day: Statements


10:30 am

Photo of Erin McGreehanErin McGreehan (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I apologise. My other half gives great care in my home. My father gave great care in my home. Some of the Senator's language is disgusting.

To go back to International Women's Day I want to acknowledge women who are in conflict. Thousands of women are suffering in war. We see on our screens every day the women in Gaza who are losing their babies straight after birth or who are not able to give birth in safe places. There are 32 conflicts ongoing at present. We are really lucky in this country that we live in such a safe place. We are lucky and privileged.

It almost seems fickle to stand here and speak about all the great things we can achieve. It seems a little bit selfish to be speaking about all the great work that has been done and all the great women and great achievements when millions of women all over the world are unsafe, suffering and cannot get educated. We should all take a step back. We live in a really good country. Someone who grows up in Ireland has an opportunity to be educated and is allowed to have ambition. They can go to university, college or higher education or whatever they want to do. We take this for granted in this country. We should always be cognisant there are millions of women throughout the world who cannot do it.

I congratulate our domestic violence agencies throughout the country. Last week, Women's Aid Dundalk launched a public evening for our new refuge that will be built in Dundalk for families and women who are in danger. The planning application is in and I hope we get it off the ground. Thankfully, the Government will fund 100% of the refuge. This is an incredible achievement. There was always matched funding that had to be got. Now, there are no worries. Once planning permission has been secured, 12 refuge spaces for families can be built. Ireland is a safe country but we can do an awful lot better. The Minister, Deputy O'Gorman, has worked in the Department and with Tusla. I know the work done on supporting refuges and people throughout the country.

In recent years, we have had incredible advances in women's health. As a sufferer of endometriosis, I felt very neglected and unheard for many years. To now have endometriosis-focused clinics set up in the country is a big deal. People are getting care that we could have never dreamed of. It is a great testament to the Government.

There are many things I want to say but I got a little sidetracked. Previously I was accused of being very personal when speaking about the referendum but it is personal. Family is personal and care is very personal. I do not apologise for being vested in my family and invested in the care we provide to each other. I advocate for a "Yes, Yes" vote on Friday. I really hope people come out and listen to the real arguments and to what it is really about. It is about celebrating the care we all provide to each other in our families.

I congratulate Irish sportswomen. I was glued to the television last weekend. We had some highs and lows on the track. Our relay team set a new national record. Sharlene Mawdsley was absolutely ripping up the track with her fastest split in the semi-final and second-fastest in the final. As someone who loves athletics, it is fantastic to see women doing so well on an international stage.

There is are also our soccer stars. They were brilliant to see during the World Cup. I have four sons who are addicted to football. They watch all football. We sat down and watched the Women's World Cup. We watch football and sport and talented people at their best. Those advances did not exist when I was younger. We have come a long way in many ways.

As a very proud nation, one with an awful lot of freedoms that we need to protect, we should always be cognisant that when we step up here, we speak for other women throughout the world who do not live in safe conditions. They would love the opportunity to choose. They would love an opportunity to be able to choose when they have children and when they do not want to have children. They would love an opportunity to choose to be educated, to get married or not to get married.Some in this country take that for granted and want us to remain in an antiquated space where women's duties are in the home and that they are only recognised in the Constitution as such.


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