Countess Markievicz portrait presented to Westminster to mark centenary of women's vote
THE Oireachtas has gifted its British counterpart a portrait Constance Markievicz, the first woman elected as a Westminster MP.
The picture, a photographic reproduction of a 1901 oil painting owned by Dublin gallery the Hugh Lane, was presented to House of Commons speaker John Bercow by Dáil Éireann ceann comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl.
It will go on public display in Westminster's Voice and Vote exhibition, which runs until October 6, when it will be transferred to Portcullis House for public display.
The gifting of the Markievicz picture is just one of the ways in which the Houses of the Oireachtas and the British parliament are marking the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave some women in what was then the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland the right to vote.
It was followed later by the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918, which allowed all women over 21 to stand for election to Westminster.
In the December 1918 general election, 8.4 million British and Irish women were eligible to vote for the first time and 17 women stood for election, including Sinn Féin candidate Countess Markievicz and Christabel Pankhurst of the Women’s Party.
Standing in Dublin St Patrick's division, Countess Markievicz was the only women to be elected. At the time of her election, however, she was in prison having been arrested for her taking part in nationalist activities. She celebrated the historic win from her cell, where she received a letter from 10 Downing Street – addressed “Dear Sir…” – inviting her to attend the state opening of parliament.
However, she never took her seat at Westminster and instead became a dedicated parliamentarian sitting in the Dáil.
Mr Ó Fearghaíl said it was "very appropriate" that her portrait should hang in Westminster to mark the 100th anniversary of her election.
"This gifting also illustrates our shared historical and suffrage heritage and underlines the sometimes troubled, but overwhelmingly very positive links between our two countries," he said.
Mr Bercow said Countess Markievicz held a "unique place in British and Irish history".