Ireland’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN), the first woman to head up the Scouts in this country and the first Traveller woman to sit in the Oireachtas are just some of the trailblazers who will speak at a webinar aimed at encouraging more women into politics, organised by Cork City Council in conjunction with its Women’s Caucus and supported by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Titled “Women in local politics – Be the She Change”, the keynote address will be given by Geraldine Byrne Nason, the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who drew global acclaim for her passionate speech on women’s rights in Afghanistan at the time of the US exit from the country.

Joining her on November 17 will be Jill Pitcher Farrell, the first female Chief Scout, Senator Eileen Flynn, the first Traveller woman to serve in the Oireachtas and Cllr Uruemu Adejinmi, the first African woman to be elected Mayor in Ireland.

A panel discussion with the Caucus’s Chair, Cllr. Mary Rose Desmond, Cork City Council Chief Executive, Ann Doherty and former Lord Mayor of Cork, Catherine Clancy will be moderated by Dr. Theresa Reidy (Department of Government & Politics UCC).

Cllr. John Sheehan will also discuss the everyday impact of period poverty with a student from St. Angela’s College, Cork City who has taken part in the Young Social Innovators – YSI Ireland project. Meanwhile, his Cork City Council colleague, Cllr. Garrett Kelleher will take part in the second panel discussion moderated by Senator Flynn.

Caroline O’Driscoll, partner at Deloitte Ireland and co-founder of iWish, the enormously successfully programme aimed at encouraging young girls into STEM careers, will conclude the webinar.

The webinar will be interpreted by two Irish Sign Language interpreters.

Chair, Cllr. Mary Rose Desmond said:

We are making a real effort to encourage as many people as possible, women and men, as we can to join this webinar as the challenge of increasing the number of women in local politics isn’t going away. Put simply, women make up half of the population yet there aren’t anywhere enough of us at the tables where decisions are being made about our lives. The upcoming webinar will be enormously interesting as women from diverse backgrounds and from political & non-political forums will take a hard and honest look at the systemic barriers and fears that stop many women from seeing themselves get involved in local politics.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday November 17 from 12:00pm to 1.30pm and will be hosted on   

Register for the webinar on Eventbrite.


On International Women’s Day last year, Cork City Council made history by launching its first cross-party women’s caucus.  It was established “to promote women in politics and enhance female participation in Local Government by exploring barriers and challenges to participation, in addition to appropriate interventions to form collective and targeted actions on issues, in areas of common interest.”

Women remain woefully underrepresented in Irish politics and there is a clear lack of wider diversity, despite some recent gains in local government. This may signal systemic obstacles that work to undermine women’s interest in political engagement or entering politics.  Nationally, 226 women took seats in the local elections in 2019, making up 24% of all Councillors across the country. In Cork City, 24 women, out of a total of 82 candidates, ran in these elections. Six were successful, meaning just 19% of the current elected members on Cork City Council are women.

Furthermore, Cork City has a growing diverse population. Over the five-year period since 2011, only eight counties in Ireland recorded an increase in their non-Irish national population. Cork City saw the largest increase with non-Irish nationals making up 14.1% of those living in the city. Cork saw a rise of 17.2 per cent in new communities between 2011 and 2016. The Cork City Profile 2018 also reveals that over 42% of the population living in Cork city centre are non-Irish nationals.

Some 53 candidates from outside Ireland put their names forward in the 2019 Local Elections with 8 elected. In Cork City there were 3 candidates who were non Irish nationals; one of whom was Dr.Lekha Menon Margassery, an academic from the Indian state of Kerala who ran as an Independent following her attendance at the Department of Justice and Equality seminar “Engaging Migrants in Politics” and engaging with the ‘Shape Your City initiative’.


Chair Aoife Moore 

Aoife Moore is an award-winning Political Correspondent for the Irish Examiner, based in Dublin.
Born in Derry during the peace process, Aoife has won awards for her coverage of Northern Ireland and broke the biggest story in Irish politics last year, when 80 public figures attended a golf dinner during the height of Covid19 regulations, now known as Golfgate.
She has paid special attention to women’s issues in her career, with detailed investigations into the harassment of lone parents on social welfare and sexual harassment in politics.

Keynote Speaker Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason 

Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason is the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations in New York. She took up this position in August 2017 on completion of her term as Ambassador of Ireland to France. Previously she was Second Secretary General in the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Ambassador and Ireland’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, and Director of the National Forum on Europe.

During her career, Ambassador Byrne Nason has served in Brussels, New York, Paris, Vienna, and Helsinki. As Second Secretary-General in the Department of the Taoiseach from 2011-2014, she was the highest ranking female public servant in Ireland. During that period she also was Secretary General of Ireland’s Economic Management Council.

Since her arrival in New York, Ambassador Byrne Nason led Ireland’s successful campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, and now leads the Security Council team at the Mission for the 2021-2022 term. She was Chair of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for 2018 and 2019. She has also co-chaired high-level political negotiations on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and on the ‘Samoa pathway’ for Small Island Developing States.

A native of County Louth, in 2020 Ambassador Byrne Nason was awarded the Freedom of Drogheda, the town’s highest honour. She was the third woman to receive the award of its 35 recipients. In 2014, she was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Ireland’s highest academic honour. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Maynooth University as well as Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Literature from Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth (NUIM). Ms. Byrne Nason is married and has one son.

Moderator Senator Eileen Flynn

Senator Eileen Flynn was nominated to the Seanad by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in 2020 and is the first Traveller/Mincéir to the serve in the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Her background is in community development and activism on behalf of Irish Travellers and in solidarity with other ethnic minorities. She is also deeply committed to the causes of women’s rights, human rights, and equality.

Eileen is proud of her work with organisations such as the Irish Network Against Racism, Ballyfermot Travellers Action Group, National Traveller Women’s Forum, Apollo House, and her campaigning efforts in both the Marriage Equality and Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018 (Repeal of the 8th Amendment) Referendums.

She was one of the first people in her family, along with her twin sister, to attend University and graduated with an Honours Degree in community Work from NUI Maynooth. Originally from Ballyfermot, she now lives in Donegal with her husband, Liam, and her young daughter. She hopes to use her time in the Seanad to lend her voice to the cause of human rights and equality for all those at the very end of Irish society.

More than anything I am hopeful. I truly believe that the appetite for change brings new energy and impetus to tackle the problems causing so much pain and hardship in our communities. I have never been one to shy away from difficult and hard issues and understand deeply the importance of speaking truth to power.

Gruber grakal a muni talosk air ain.
Working towards a better day for all. 

Moderator Dr. Theresa Reidy 

Dr. Theresa Reidy is a senior lecturer and head of department at the Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork. Her research interests lie in the areas of political institutions and electoral behaviour and her recent work has been published in Electoral Studies, Parliamentary Affairs and Politics. Theresa has received funding for her research on elections and referendums from the European Commission, Irish Research Council, Irish Aid and the Royal Irish Academy.

Fire Side Chat – Cllr. John Sheehan 

John is a local GP based out of Blackpool since 2003.  He is also an Assistant Programme Director in the UCC General Practice Training programme.  He is interested in Medical Education, Deprivation and Cardiovascular Disease.  He sits on the Board of the South Infirmary Victoria Hospital and the HSE Regional Health Forum.

One of the highlights of his career was serving as Lord Mayor of Cork for 2019 to 2020, an experience that he states has given him a whole new appreciation for his beloved city.

Panellist Cllr. Uruemu Adejinmi 

Cllr. Uruemu Adejinmi is the Mayor of Longford and Councillor on Longford County Council and the Secretary of Fianna Fáil Women’s Network. 

She holds a BSc Hons in Mathematics, a QQI Level 9 Certification in Risk and Financial Analysis, an MBA, and is a certified Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP).  Prior to taking elected office, Uruemu worked for over 16 years in the private and public sectors in various roles from entry level to management level. 

Cllr. Uruemu is a Community Activist, involved in many local community groups, sits as director and member of boards of local and charity organisations.

She is the founder and Chairperson of Longford African Network and has facilitated the creation of other Ethnic Community Networks as well as collaborations to increase participation of interest groups in community.

Panellist Catherine Clancy

Member of Cork City Council from 2003-2014, representing Cork North Central Ward.

Appointed Lord Mayor of Cork in 2013-2014 and the fourth woman in 100 years to hold the office.

First woman chair of the VEC.

First woman chair of the HSE South.

Involved in several campaigns Breast Check for Cork and two divorce referendums. 

Panellist Cllr. Mary Rose Desmond

Mary Rose Desmond was first elected to Cork County Council in 2014 and subsequently in 2019 became the first County Councillor to be elected to the newly extended Cork City Council.  Having worked in the private sector for many years, Mary Rose began working as Parliamentary Assistant to Micheál Martin TD, now Taoiseach, in 2007, a position she still holds.  Mary Rose has always been very involved in community activities including scouting, the Lions Clubs charity organisation, at both local and international level, and theatre.  She is currently a member of the Board of Cork Opera House, Cork Education and Training Board and Douglas Community Association.  Mary Rose is the current chair of the South East Ward and became chair of the newly formed Cork City Council Women’s Caucus at the end of 2020.  In June of this year Mary Rose was elected as Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork.

Panellist Cllr. Garret Kelleher

Cllr. Garret Kelleher is an elected member of Cork City Council, representing the South-West Ward. In 2013, he wrote his MBS thesis entitled “Proportional Representation? PR-STV and the election of Women to Dáil Éireann – a study of five Irish General Elections (1992-2011)”, which examined the relative success rates of women candidates and ultimately concluded that, over the course period examined, there was not any discernable bias on the part of Irish voters against women candidates and that the parliamentary gender imbalance which existed in Ireland, prior to the introduction of gender quotas in 2016, was primarily sustained by conservative tendencies in the selection processes of the larger political parties.

Caroline O’Driscoll

Caroline has over 20 years’ providing corporate and international tax advice to Multinational Companies, particularly in the technology and pharma sectors. She is currently the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) tax lead for Deloitte’s North and South European (NSE) practice comprising 27 countries.

Passionate about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Caroline sits on the Inclusion Council for Deloitte Ireland, and on Deloitte’s European (NSE) advisory council for diversity and inclusion within the TMT sector.

In a voluntary capacity, Caroline is the co-founder of the award winning I Wish programme which was set up to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers. Over 35,000 girls have participated since its inception. She sits on the Department of Education’s STEM advisory review group, is a board member (and chair of the finance committee) of the social innovation fund ReThink Ireland and she is a past chairperson of the industry technology network it@cork.

She is a regular event MC, keynote speaker, panellist and contributor to print and broadcast media on topics such as international tax, technology, diversity and STEM.

Jill Pitcher Farrell 

Jill Pitcher Farrell was elected as the Chief Scout of Scouting Ireland in May. She is the first female and the youngest Chief Scout. She has been involved in Scouting at both a local and national level for over 10 years. Alongside her position as Chief Scout, she has a degree in Environmental Science and is currently completing a masters by research in soil science. She is also an avid kayaker and has been involved as an ambassador for Canoeing Ireland’s Bridge the Gap initiative which promotes women in Paddlesports.

Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council 

In September 2014, Ann Doherty was appointed Chief Executive of Cork City Council where she is responsible for the strategic leadership and successful direction of an organisation that employs over 1500 staff and is the city’s only organisation, as provided for in law, that represents, leads and serves the communities of Cork City.  

In 2019, she oversaw the largest local authority boundary extension in the history of the state with Cork City growing to five times its previous size.  This historic expansion of the city has enabled Cork City Council to plan for a city of sustainable urban growth and realise its potential as a city of scale. 

An experienced business leader with over 3 decades in senior management roles in Ireland and the UK, Ann has been responsible for the implementation of transformative programmes to deliver change and operational success in large public sector organisations including the Health Service Executive (Ireland) and the National Health Service (UK).  Ann holds an MBA and is a Chartered Director. 

In 2014, along with 25 other women, Ann was awarded as one of Ireland’s Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network.

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