Labour’s Ivana Bacik, newly elected in Dublin Bay South, is a 53-year-old longtime activist who has served as a senator, a lawyer and lecturer in Trinity College Dublin.
From Rathgar/Terenure in Dublin, she now lives in Portobello with her husband Alan Saul and their two young daughters – two key districts in the campaign that brought success on Friday.
Her cycling habit was used as the emblem for the campaign, adorning posters that emphasised the personality of the candidate, if not the party for which she ran.
During university days she was threatened with prison in 1989 for providing abortion information. Later she was vocal in the marriage equality and the Eighth Amendment referendums.
Reproductive healthcare has “always been an economic issue for women”, she said, saying she remembers women ringing in the 1980s “looking for a phone number of a clinic in England”.
First elected to the Seanad in 2007, she has worked on legislation about working conditions for freelancers, secular marriage, the gender pay gap, women’s health issues and LGBT equality.
She stood unsuccessfully in the 2009 Dublin Central byelection, and in the 2011 election in Dún Laoghaire. She also ran in the 2004 European Parliament elections.
Labour leader Alan Kelly said he had wanted to see her run “at long last” in her home constituency: “She was somebody we could sell on the doors so easily. She is so well-known, so admired.”
Labour now has seven TDs, edging ahead of the Social Democrats. She is the Labour Party’s sole female Deputy, and the 37th woman elected to the 33rd Dáil.