Buncrana Councillor Rena Donaghey has shared her hopes that her election as Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council will set an example to more women with an interest in politics. 

Cllr Donaghey, who has been in politics for 26 years, was proudly elected to the role of Donegal’s first citizen today. 

She is the third woman in the 121-year history of the council to be elected as Chair. 

Newly elected Leas Cathaoirleach Cllr Noel Jordan, Cathaoirleach Cllr Rena Donaghey and Chief Executive of Donegal County Council Seamus Neely at the Donegal County Council AGM

Cllr Donaghey said more positive action and initiative is required to correct the imbalance in the county chamber. 

Four of the current 36 members of Donegal County Council are women. They are Marie Therese Gallagher (Sinn Féin) in Glenties, Niamh Kennedy (Independent) in Donegal, Rena Donaghey (Fianna Fáil) representing Inishowen and newcomer Noreen McGarvey (Fianna Fáil) for Glenties.

Addressing the council today, Cllr Donaghey said: 

“The last census in 2016 told us that for every 100 women in Donegal there are only 99 men. 

“I think each of the parties on this council, and those seeking to be represented in the future, can and must do more to achieve a better balance in representation when nominating candidates.

“I don’t say this in any way to be critical of the current male councillors: the reality is the composition of this chamber is significantly out of step with the population it seeks to represent.”

Cllr Rena Donaghey elected Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council

Cllr Donaghey is also the first ever female Fianna Fáil councillor to serve as Cathaoirleach in Donegal.

She said: “I must admit to feeling some embarrassment for the party, given our long history of representation and driving progress in the county, that we have only achieved this for the first time in the year 2020.”

Outlining her goals for the year, Cllr Donaghey said: “I also hope that my election as Cathaoirleach will inspire some of the very capable women out there right across the county.”

Today was a proud day for the Inishowen woman, who has committed to continue with her work advocating education, tourism and strengthening Donegal’s economic offerings.

“My commitment to each colleague and to the people of Donegal for the next 12 months is to carry out my role with the same level of energy, determination, integrity and compassion that I hope I have brought Inishowen over the past 26 years,” Cllr Donaghey said.

Cllr Donaghey’s election had a special significance today, as it is also her 36th wedding anniversary to her husband Patrick.

Cllr Donaghey was joined by Patrick, three of their children, and three grandchildren to celebrate receiving the high honour today.