Celebrating women of Louth on International Women's Day - Cllr Maeve Yore
To celebrate International Women's Day, the Dundalk Democrat has spoken to some women of Louth to find out more about what inspires them in what they do and what International Women's Day means to them. Here, Dundalk councillor Maeve Yore speaks to the Dundalk Democrat about her life as a local politician, what inspires her to keep going and her message to young women.
If you're topping local election polls in Dundalk as an Independent candidate while up against candidates from the biggest establishment parties, you're obviously not your run of the mill candidate. That is what Maeve Yore did in Dundalk South in the 2019 Local Elections, and for anyone who follows local politics, it is easy to see why so many in Dundalk support her.
Not afraid to “speak truth to power”, as anyone who has ever attended a Louth County Council or Dundalk Municipal District meeting where Maeve has spoken, can attestify to, Maeve is not afraid to call out what needs to be called out.
She was first elected to Louth County Council in 2014, having decided to run just five weeks before the local elections took place and came third in the poll.
Maeve says her reasons for running was that “in 2003 we had Rachel [our daughter], and we set up SNAP (Special Needs Active Parents) in 2004. We lobbied every local TD, councillor, Minister for Disability. They all promised action, none delivered.
“An incident happened in Dundalk with a young adult with special needs where they were barred. But the others involved in the incident, weren't barred. SNAP sent a delegation and met with the management. There was no resolution.
“I left that meeting and said we'll never change the system on the outside. We were trying to do this for the last 11 years and that night I asked Martin [my husband] to bring me home local election forms from the County Hall.”
Maeve is an independent candidate because she says “I have no trust in the political parties or the TDs to take ownership of issues. [I'm] Independent because for the last 100 years, the place isn't any better for political parties in my opinion.” She adds that has no family ties to politics, “no nepotism or anything else thankfully”.
Balance a family life with politics “is hugely challenging”, Maeve comments. When she was first elected, she says that “Martin worked 12 hour shifts so in 2014 I still had primary and secondary school children and school runs and homework.” This is in between the “very unsociable hours when you're in politics”, she adds. “Municipal meetings start at 5.15, the JPCs(Joint Policing Committees) start at 4pm, the SPCs (Strategic Policy Committees) start in Drogheda or Dundalk so you have to travel to some of these meetings. At 3pm I was at the LMETB board as well and that was all over Louth and Meath. It could take you two hours to get to a meeting before the meeting even started.”
“The family are very proud of me”, she adds, “they all realise that I'm in this to make a difference and make a positive contribution to my county.” When it was put to Maeve, would a male politician be asked such a question about balancing family and political life, she wasn't afraid to tell the truth: “Absolutely not, no male politician would be asked that.”
To Maeve, International Woman's Day, “means empowerment, recognition and equality.” Politics, even local politics, it seems, is a tough place for women to achieve this. “Even locally”, Maeve says, “when I attended events in different parts of the county, some of the male councillors would ask, “what are you doing here?”. My reply was always, “I'm a Louth County Councillor, what are you doing here?”
Her message to women and girls on International Woman's Day is to “be of independent mind and have integrity. Be inclusive, be kind. Believe in yourself. Find your voice and don't let others intimidate you or male egos intimidate you.”
One thing Maeve wants girls to know about politicians is that “we're not all the same. That's the rhetoric that you hear all the time from young people. 'Aw sure they're all the same'. My elder boys thought the same. We're not all the same. We're not all in politics for the chains around the neck or the power the glory or the money.
“We're in it to make a difference. And I will always say to them, If anybody is ever interested in running in politics I will help and encourage any woman to enter politics. History has shown that wars are normally started by men. Women can multi task, be collaborative, be willing to compromise. And I think we need more women leaders in power. You can see how well Jacinda Ardern did during the whole Covid in New Zealand. “Catherine Connolly TD is another. A great role model for me as an independent and gets things done and really cares.”
It is easy to imagine Maeve inspiring young women. Her honesty and integrity go before her - you'd follow her into battle yourself.
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