Women holding key positions in legal fields

Appointment of Nóirín O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner the latest in a series of women selected for senior roles

Many of the most senior legal and law-focused positions in the State are now held by women, following the appointment of the first female Garda Commissioner.

Nóirín O’Sullivan, the former acting Commissioner, has now been appointed to the top job by the Government.

Frances Fitzgerald was named Minister for Justice in May 2014, having served as Ireland's first minister for children since 2011. She is one of 27 women TDs in the 166-member Dáil. Chief Justice Susan Denham, the first woman to hold the position, was appointed in July 2011 by then president Mary McAleese. Also in 2011, the first woman attorney general, Máire Whelan, was appointed.

Female first

The selection of

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Claire Loftus

as Director of Public Prosecutions that year marked another female first. The position of Chief State Solicitor has been held by

Eileen Creedon

since January 2012 and the President of the District Court,

Rosemary Horgan

, was also appointed two years ago. Annette O’Connell is head of the Dublin Probate Office.

As of this month, the chairwoman of the Policing Authority is Josephine Feehily,who became chairwoman of the Revenue Commissioners in 2008.

Ms Feehily has described as "particularly clever" the Government's move to ensure State funding to political parties is halved unless 30 per cent of their candidates at the next general election are women.

Quota

Feehily told

The Irish Times

this was an “appropriate” use of quota in an interview last year.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable at all with a quota of outcomes,” she added. “At the end of the day those of us that are employers always want to hire the most talented person. We just need to make sure that we have structures in place and processes that are very clearly saying we are completely open to the most talented person being a woman.”

In politics, there have been 14 women ministers in the history of the State. While 16 per cent of TDs are women, the EU average figure for national parliaments is 27 per cent.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times