Emily O’ Reilly: Women ‘infantilised’ by laws of newly independent State

European Ombudsman says Ireland aneeds to atone for the missed opportunities of 1916

 Emily O’Reilly: ‘The 1937 constitution neatly packaged the dehumanising intent of these and future laws through its explicit positioning of women outside of the public space’. File photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Emily O’Reilly: ‘The 1937 constitution neatly packaged the dehumanising intent of these and future laws through its explicit positioning of women outside of the public space’. File photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

European Ombudsman Emily O’ Reilly said “vast swathes of women” were “infantilised” through the laws of newly independent Ireland.

Speaking at the official opening of the Parnell Summer School in Rathdrum Co Wicklow said said Ireland as a nation needs to atone for the missed opportunities of 1916, following its record of inequality for women since the Rising.

She pointed to legislation and political discourse as the mechanisms of suppression over the decades. “The 1937 constitution neatly packaged the dehumanising intent of these and future laws through its explicit positioning of women outside of the public space.”

“Pearse and his comrades were barely 20 years in their graves and the presumed equality intent of the Proclamation was buried deep in the quicklime with them. Dail debates from that period, bit way beyond those decades also, give full voice to the misogyny that was as much a part of our daily lives as oxygen.

“Vast swathes of women were essentially infantilised through the laws of this newly independent state, their rights little greater than those of their children, their bodies, minds and actions controlled through the cultural, legal and religious apparatus if the republic,” she said.

She said an unnamed TD had even urged that during the Garda recruitment process “the choice should be restricted to the physically plainest of applicants, those with little chance of finding a partner.”

She also made reference to how laws and lawyers in Nazi Germany had been used “to habituate the Jews and other Germans to the reduction of the Jewish people to the single trait of ethnicity from which point every element of their lives and eventual death was controlled. I make the point not to draw a parallel..... because there is none.. but rather to show how the law is frequently used as the key element of a human being has the sole determinant of their treatment by the State.”