- Bitterness continued to haunt the population long after the Civil War ended. Violence did not cease completely as armed Republican organisations surfaced from time to time and seemed to threaten the security of the state.
- Prominent politicians such as Kevin O'Higgins (Cumann na nGaedheal) and Éamon de Valera (Fianna Fáil) held very conservative views on the role of women.
- The majority of Cumann na mBan members and of other women activists in the years leading up to independence, opposed the Treaty and were no longer involved in main-stream politics.
- Only five women were elected to the Dáil in 1923. But four of these were abstentionists, meaning that they refused to take their seats as they belonged to the anti-Treaty Sinn Féin party and so the Dáil was deprived of the voices of opposition women.
- Margaret Collins-O'Driscoll (Cumann na nGaedheal), a sister of Michael Collins, was effectively the only woman in the Dáil from 1923-1932. She was loyal to the government party and did not challenge its official policy. However, spirited contributions on women's issues were made by some of the six women members of the Senate from 1922-1936.
|Of women in public life, O'Higgins asked the Dáil, 'but are they normal or the exception?' Submitting to the House that they were the exception, the Minister added, 'it is the normal and natural function of women to have children.'
Mary Clancy, 'Aspects of women's contribution to the Oireachtas debate in the Irish Free State, 1922-1937' in Maria Luddy & Cliona Murphy (eds.), Women Surviving , Dublin, 1990, p. 223.
|In retrospect, the opposition of the majority of politically-active women to the Treaty can be seen as the first step towards their gradual exclusion from public life in the new Ireland.
Carol Coulter, The Hidden Tradition, Cork, 1993, p. 24.
- Only _______ women were elected to the Dáil in 1923, but _______ of them were ____________, which means that they never _____________ .
- Comment on the main reasons given for restrictions on women in the early years of the state.
- Select any one of the following factors and discuss how it affected the role of women in the early years of the state: social values; finance; farming; trade; security; politics.
- Research the attitudes of Kevin O'Higgins or Éamon de Valera to the role of women.