Donegal was well-represented in a ‘Women in Leadership’ Delegation that gave its input to the European Parliament in Brussels this week.
Pictured above: Donegal delegates from left to right: Erin Toland , Chris MacManus MEP (Delegation Host) , Mary Coyle at the European Parliament
Representatives from Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo were guests of Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus for two days of engagements on women’s issues.
Many Civil Society groups from throughout the West and Northwest travelled on the delegation including representatives from Aremoja Women’s Group, Comhar Caomhán Teo Inis Oírr (Inis Oírr Community Development Cooperative), Domestic Violence Action Service, Gort Resource Centre, Independent Living Movement Ireland, Ionad Naomh Pádraig Dobhar (St Patrick’s community centre in Donegal), Irish Wheelchair Association, Mandate Trade Union, Refugee Book and SIPTU (Early Childhood Education sector).
“It was an honour and a privilege to host this ‘Women in Leadership’ Delegation” said Chris MacManus MEP. “It was a thoroughly engrossing couple of days. It was powerful chatting to the delegates while they were with us in Brussels. All leaders in their respective communities and addressing inequality head on every day. Each and every one of them were fantastic ambassadors for their regions and organisations and I am really looking forward to engaging further with everyone as we work on specific projects in the future.”
The delegation joined a roundtable discussion in the European Parliament on gender issues.
In a section entitled “Combatting gender-based violence”, the room heard from MEP Frances Fitzgerald, lead MEP negotiator for the Domestic Violence Directive and Delegate Nike Ogen, Domestic Violence Action Service and Diversity Sligo. There was also a section on “Women running for political office”, which featured a talk by Alyssa Ahrabare, Advocacy and Legal Officer of the European Network of Migrant Women and coordinator of the EU-funded project AGENCY: Vote with You.
After the break the second section of the roundtable focused on Intersectionality, commencing with Disability rights and gender issues featuring contributions from both Catherine Naughton, Director of the European Disability Forum and Sligo’s Aisling Smith of Independent Living Movement Ireland.
The conference concluded with an engaging Question and Answer session which also gave an opportunity to many delegation members to raise specific issues for their organisations and regions. David Kerr from the cabinet of Commissioner Dalli was also in attendance to answer questions specific to the Commission’s competencies, before some closing words and gratitudes from Chris MacManus MEP.
Speaking after the conference MacManus said, “It has been a very busy two days, but incredibly worthwhile. Each and every delegate brought something different to the table. These delegations are so vital to informing my work in the European Parliament, whilst giving Civil Society Groups from my constituency direct access to the European Institutions.”
The Sinn Féin MEP concluded by thanking the members of the delegation. “It was great to be able to host this delegation. I feel like we have covered a lot of important issues this week. I’d like to sincerely thank every delegate for their attendance and indeed my own team here in Brussels and at home for organising what was a very successful delegation.”