1. Being beaten in your own home with a metal pipe by a complete stranger and that stranger subsequently admitting his guilt in court, is no guarantee of him receiving a custodial sentence. Justice, Irish style.
2. Emergency contraception is available without prescription – but you can expect a healthy side-serving of shame for free! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hLTg-L—7o
3. You can be president but you can’t be Taoiseach. Your ovaries would spontaneously combust, what with all that power and all them fellas from Brussels making eyes at you.
4. And don’t even think about having a woman present the world’s longest running talk show. We all know that being charming, asking celebrities questions and talking into a camera fit snugly in the shoe box marked ‘FOR DE MENS’. As for the radio – you’d probably be scared the big, bad mic might bite you. Not to mention all the buttons. What are they for?
5. When it comes to the past, the Emerald Isle has a severe case of what therapists call ‘avoidance issues’. Enough avoidance issues to paper the downstairs bathroom with, if you’re DIY inclined. Listen a ghrá, it would be great if the Ireland of yore was the type of compassionate, open society where Magdalene Laundries / mother and child homes/ symphysiotomy could never have happened. It would also be something if the Ireland of today didn’t continue to export its women to the UK under a veil of silence. But it did and it does. Why is it still so hard to do the right thing, in so far as we can, for the women who deserve it most?
6. Sometimes, at mass, the priest might ask you to pray for people who are on trial for sexual assault. Also, in court, a convicted sex attacker might bring up how their golf club membership was revoked as evidence of how hard things have been for them. For a moment, you’ll think to yourself ‘I’m on Craggy Island’ but you aren’t and it isn’t funny. It’s terrifying.
7. When the Irish state wins an award for ‘Political Empowerment’, after having two female presidents serve 21 years between them, the government sends a man to collect said award. (If you think I’m joking, I’m not. The link to the story is below, eager beavers.)
8. I once stood in line waiting to meet Mary Robinson. In front of me was a middle-aged woman and her teenage daughter. The woman took her daughter’s face in her hands and said, her voice breaking, ‘voting for Mary Robinson was the first time I voted for anything in my life. It was the first time I felt like it mattered.’
I had to look away because what that mother was saying was so huge and so emotional I felt like I might burst. Being burst, with mascara dribbling down my chin was, I guessed, not the best look for shaking hands with one of the greatest women Ireland has ever produced. It’s worth remembering what Mary Robinson said about how she won the presidency, ‘I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.’
Rock on, women of Ireland. ROCK ON because nothing will change unless we make it and we have to make it. God, do we have to."