Women must fight against inequality, says Irish suffragette's granddaughter

The granddaughter of one of Ireland's foremost suffragettes has said it is women's place to take direct action for equality.

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington said her grandmother, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, would be surprised by how little has been achieved in terms of equal rights for women in the last 100 years.

The academic re-enacted her grandmother smashing the windows of the former seat of British government rule in Ireland to mark the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in Ireland.

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act
Micheline Sheehy Skeffington re-enacts her suffragette grandmother smashing the windows of Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

"We haven't got parity, we haven't got equal pay, we're not equal in the government, we're not equal in the universities," Dr Sheehy Skeffington said.

"We do not command the respect we should.

"I think she would be a little bit surprised."

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act
Micheline Sheehy Skeffington addresses the crowd after the event (Niall Carson/PA)

In 1912, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington vandalised windows in Dublin Castle in protest against women not having the right to vote.

She was arrested and sent to prison, where she went on hunger strike.

Her granddaughter said women needed to fight against the perception that they should not battle for equality.

"It is a bit that it's not women's place to be doing things like that," she said.

"Well, it is our place.

"We want to fight against that and I think it's really important."

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act
Michelle Sheehy Skeffington prepares to mark the centenary of women getting the vote in Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Dr Sheehy Skeffington added that women should be aiming for 50/50 representation in politics and that a change in attitudes towards women was needed in society.

"We are perfectly capable of being in government," she said.

"We are not saying about putting women in who aren't capable.

"But there are a lot of men who get in who aren't that capable either.

"If more women were in power, we might have a bit more respect and command a bit more respect."

On February 6 1918, legislation was passed to grant women over the age of 30  the power to vote in and run for general elections.

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act
Micheline Sheehy Skeffington re-enacts her grandmother's protest (Niall Carson/PA)

A plaque will be officially erected by Dublin City Council later this year beside the windows Mrs Sheehy Skeffington smashed in recognition of the important contribution she made to Irish public life.

Born in 1877, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington dedicated her life to tackling injustice and women's inequality.

In 1908, she founded the Irish Women's Franchise League, a militant suffrage organisation, with fellow campaigner Margaret Cousins.

In December 2014, her granddaughter won an equality tribunal case she took against the university she works in, NUI Galway.

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