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Image / Editorial

Independent TD Catherine Connolly is first-ever female Leas Cheann Comhairle

by Jennifer McShane
23rd Jul 2020

Galway-West Independent TD Catherine Connolly has been elected Leas-Cheann Comhairle –  the first woman to hold the position in the Dáil’s 101-year history

It was deemed a “shock” victory as rival Fine Gael Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd was beaten in a close 77 to 74 votes margin – he had been expected to win.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle is the Deputy Chairperson of the Dáil and carries out the duties of the Ceann Comhairle – Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghail at present – when they are absent.

Voting by secret ballot took place at the Convention Centre in Dublin for the role. The Irish Times reports that around 15 of the Government TDs swapped sides and voted for her in the secret ballot.

Connolly has been TD for the Galway West constituency since 2016 and served as Mayor of Galway from 2004 to 2005. She was appointed Chair of the Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands in April 2016.

She is a fluent Irish speaker and opened her address this afternoon in Irish.

Gender equality

“In 101 years there has never been a female chair either as Ceann Comhairle or Leas-Cheann Comhairle,” she said, adding that it would be an important symbol to have a female in the role.

“It is the most visible aspect of our democracy outside the Taoiseach in government and the leaders of the Opposition.

“It is what the people of Ireland see and it’s important that we would have gender equality in that role. It is important that we would take that step today based on capability and experience,” she added.

The official result is not expected to be announced until later this evening during which the weekly Dáil votes take place.

Main photograph: @MaireadNiChuaig

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