Northern Ireland news

Portrait of female members of the Oireachtas unveiled to mark 100 years of women's suffrage

The new artwork by Noel Murphy was unveiled in Dublin yesterday

A BELFAST-based artist famous for a portrait bringing Stormont's nationalist and unionist politicians together has unveiled new artwork featuring all of the female members of the Oireachtas.

Noel Murphy's latest portrait features all 53 women in the Dáil and Seanad and commemorates the first time Irish women were permitted to vote and to run in parliamentary elections.

To mark the 100 years of women's' suffrage, Mr Murphy's portrait also placed images of Countess Constance Markievicz into the piece, connecting the first woman elected to parliament, with the contemporary women who followed her.

The portrait, which will hang permanently in Leinster House, was presented yesterday to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl in Dublin, as part of International Women's Day celebrations.

The idea for the portrait came from broadcaster Eamon Mallie, who along with his son Michael, has been making a documentary for Oireachtas TV on women in the Dáil and Seanad.

While Mr Mallie interviewed women TDs and Senators about the role of women in contemporary politics, Mr Murphy worked alongside him to create his portrait of the women.

Among Mr Murphy's previous artworks was the 'The House will Divide', which featured all 108 members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He said the latest project aimed to united the "story of the First Dáil with the current Oireachtas".

"The House will Divide was the first time that republican and unionist politicians had all agreed to be involved in something together, so it was pretty big," he said.

"This time it was about looking at each woman as an individual, I wasn't interested in their party lines, I wanted to see them as the women they are and reflect that.

Mr Mallie said his documentary and Mr Murphy's artwork "pays homage to the females in the two houses" of the Dáil and the Seanad.

"It is a brilliant project focused on today's women in the Oireachtas and aims to examine how women see themselves," he said.

"Noel Murphy obviously has had experience in doing the same thing in the assembly, which involved republicans and unionists.

"This work shows the youthfulness and femininity of all the individuals, they are a young group of females of all parties, that is very much reflected."

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