Louth and Proud: Celebrating Senator Erin McGreehan on International Women's Day

Michelle O'Keeffe

Reporter:

Michelle O'Keeffe

Email:

michelle.okeeffe@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Louth and Proud: Celebrating Senator Erin McGreehan on International Women's Day

Erin McGreehan fights for an inclusive and equitable society as a senator working on behalf of minorities within our community and people with disabilities.

The busy mum of four young boys was elected in May of 2019 on her first election campaign to Louth County Council and in June 2020 was nominated to the Seanad.

Senator McGreehan said: “As long as I can remember, I have been involved and interested in politics and consumed by political debates and public affairs.

“I come from a politically engaged household and a politically active one you could say.

“None of my family ever ran for elected office, however, they were all very interested and there is a long history of my family’s association with Fianna Fail which goes back to the origins of the state and the origins of Fianna Fail.”

Senator McGreehan, from Castletowncooley, said that the world that she lived in led her to the path of politics.

“Living here in the border region and being acutely aware of the realities of the Troubles”, shs said.

“The notifications of bomb scares, going to Newry and being stopped and questioned by the British Army when you were going to do a little bit of shopping, that was the reality.

“Then when I would listen to the news and look at what violence did to my own community and how it tore it apart, that really put a focus on me of how politics, how positive political activism and how through political dialogue you can achieve almost the impossible and the impossible was peace.

“I never thought it was ever possible.

“However, through the Good Friday Agreement, I saw how the art of politics changes lives, saves lives and makes for basically a better country and it has changed my life.

“Politics has made me want to be an activist. It has allowed me to know that change is possible by working away, by grafting away, by speaking to different people, you can make a change.

“It is about dialogue and listening to different views.”

The Fianna Fáil politician said people inspire her to do what she does.

“What people achieve against all odds inspires me. How against the greatest of adversity people can rise up.

“But they rise up by being positive, by working with people, by accepting differences, by negotiating and working hard.

“It is my responsibility now as a public representative to help create an equitable country.

“To make it that people do not have to fight for what they want.

The Disability Matters Committee in the Oireachtas is one the ways in which I fight for an inclusive and equitable society and community.”

She advised young women who want to get into politics to “just do it”.

She said: “Politics is not a normal career. It is a vocation in a way and if you want policies that are fair and progressive you need your Oireachtas to reflect that. Government needs to reflect society.

“People from all walks of life, all sexes, people with disabilities, from different ethnic backgrounds should all be encouraged to partake in every aspect and layer of our community.

“Politics is not an easy career to go into.

“It can be quite lonely and can be isolating. It can be the most exhilarating, invigorating, exciting time.

“It can be very challenging; however, it is the most worthwhile job that I have ever decided to do.

“I have always wanted to be where I am today. Ever since I was a little girl. For someone whose dreams have come true, I think I’m incredibly lucky.”

She said being elected to Louth County Council as a councillor in May 2019 was her first step in pushing for change.

“Since then I became a Senator in the Oireachtas and I will forever focus my efforts on disability and the marginalised.

“I am constantly pushing for a more inclusive society that allows everyone a fair and equal opportunity in our country.

“It is the reason that I ran for election as a Councillor and I will work everyday to lobby to reduce the barriers for all to live in a fairer society.”