Galway International Arts Festival | First Thought Talks Winter Programme

First Thought Talk with Martina Fitzgerald, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Jan O’Sullivan

RTÉ Political Correspondent Martina Fitzgerald discusses the challenges faced and progress made by women in Irish politics over the past 100 years.

Fitzgerald is joined by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Jan O'Sullivan, two of only 19 women who have served as senior ministers since 1918. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. She served in many ministries over a long political career and as a European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science from 2010 to 2014. Jan O'Sullivan is a Labour Party politician who has held several ministries, including the Ministry of State for Housing from 2011 to 2014. She kept her seat in Limerick after the 2016 election, a disastrous one for Labour. Marian Richardson, broadcaster, moderates the session.

In this video, Fitzgerald, Geoghegan-Quinn and O'Sullivan discuss double-standards, sexism, challenges, and triumphs over the courses of their careers.

Martina Fitzgerald is the author of the No. 1 bestselling book, Madam Politician. She works in Leinster House as Political Correspondent for RTÉ News & Current Affairs. Earlier this year, she was named as one of the most influential Irish journalists on Twitter. A history and politics graduate of UCD, Martina is a member of the editorial board of the University’s alumni magazine, Connections.

For Madam Politician, she interviewed all 17 surviving women who have served as senior ministers and the two former female Presidents to recount their experiences in the corridors of power, the battles to have their voices heard and dealing with various levels of sexism.

The book has been described by Emily O’Reilly, as an ‘important contribution to the contemporary reflection on women's historic and future place in Irish society and public life.' Among those who have also praised Madam Politician are RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke (‘A fascinating read’) and Newstalk’s Ivan Yates (‘A great book and a very interesting and different take on the political scene with a historical context to it’). The Sunday Independent said it was ‘an essential read’ while the Irish Mail on Sunday described Madam Politician as the ‘political book of the year’.