Kevin O'Higgins, Minister for Justice in 1927, proposed to ban women from jury service on the basis that they were reluctant to do it, had enough to do at home, were unsuited to it and should be protected from it:

A man can be absent for a day or a couple of days from his household, as a rule, without any serious consequences occurring to anybody. He can lunch out, and it does not follow that the other members of his household have to do without their lunch. He is not, as a rule, charged with the care of young children.
Kevin O'Higgins, Dáil Debates, 23 Feb. 1927, Vol. 18.

Minister O'Higgins said he wished to shelter women from some of the unpleasant realities often revealed in criminal cases.

Extremely unpleasant cases come before the courts, cases of indecent assault, of rape ... I do not want to overstress it, but it is a fact that cases come before the courts not infrequently which one would not like to discuss with the feminine members of one's own family.
Kevin O'Higgins, Dáil Debates, 15 Feb. 1927, Vol. 18.

After many male deputies and senators protested during a vigorous debate, the government eventually agreed that women ratepayers could apply to have their names put on jury panels but very few women did so.

However, banning women from juries was not unusual in other countries at the time.

For example, the right to free and unfettered jury service - a right which is fundamental to the exercise of citizenship - was denied to women until 1976 in Ireland and did not become a reality in all 50 states of the United States until 1979.
Maryann G. Valiulis in Maryann G. Valiulis & Mary O'Dowd, Women & Irish history, Dublin, 1997, p.162.


  1. Minister Kevin O'Higgins proposed to ban women from jury service in _______ because ________.
  2. Discuss the value of parliamentary debates as historical evidence.
  3. Why do you think the Irish government decided to confine jury service to males and to ratepayers (people who paid taxes on property)?
  4. What decision did the Irish Free State government eventually reach in the 1920s concerning women on juries?


  1. Role play or compose a dialogue between Kevin O'Higgins and reporters who support/oppose women on juries.
  2. Write a speech to be delivered in Dáil Éireann on the topic of women in juries.
  3. Research the debate in the Oireachtas on the Juries Act (1927) on the Internet.
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