Josepha Madigan TD spoke today at the inaugural UCC Women in Law Forum at Hayfield Manor, Cork.
Other speakers included Justice Iseult O’Malley of the Irish Supreme Court; Justice Elizabeth Dunne of the Irish Supreme Court; Sinead McSweeney, MD of Twitter in Ireland, Ailish Finnerty, Partner at Arthur Cox; Anne Power, former Judge on the European Court of Justice; Emily O’Reilly, Ombudsman and Professor Irene Lynch Fannon.
Deputy Madigan said: “It was a great pleasure to join so many great luminaries of the legal profession, women who have led and are leading the way for the women in law. The event was a great opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the major contribution of women in law to this country and further afield. I also hope the event served to encourage the many female law students in attendance – this is a field in which they can achieve great things.”
“The law was once a male dominated profession but now there are more women practicing as solicitors in this country than men. If current trends continue, the same will likely soon be true of barristers.
“Ireland is now perhaps one of the best countries in the world for woman lawyers. Currently all of the top legal jobs are occupied by women: Our Chief Justice Susan Denham was the first woman on the Supreme Court and was the second female Chief Justices in the world, only beaten to the position by a matter of days by the controversial Upatissa Atapattu Bandaranayake Wasala Mudiyanse Ralahamilage Shirani Anshumala Bandaranayake of Sri Lanka. Try saying that one fast.
“Our Minister for Justice, Attorney General, Chief State Solicitor and Director of Public Prosecutions are all women, as is the Chief Commissioner of An Garda Síochána. Both of Ireland’s female presidents- Mary Robinson, and Mary McAleese, were lawyers.
“Working now in the Dáil, it is clear that the profession of “making the law” has not opened up as much for women as has the practice of law. Only 22% of TDs are women despite a major increase in female representation in the most recent General Election.
“I believe that the political culture is changing and we are seeing an ever increasing female presence in Irish political life but there is substantial work that still needs to be done.”