24 November 2005 Edition
Dublin Women learn from European experience
BY JOANNE CORCORAN
A delegation of women from all over Dublin travelled to the EU Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday at the invite of Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald. The women activists, from right across the community sector, were accompanied on their trip by Dublin City Councillors Larry O'Toole and Dessie Ellis.
Mary Lou arranged for representatives of the European Citizen Action Centre, which deals with funding, to meet with the women and inform them of their funding rights.
With the childcare debate raging in Ireland, the women also met Commission staff members to hear about European models of childcare. It was an opportunity for women who deal with the Dublin Government's failed childcare policies to see how other European countries tackle the issue. They will now come back to Ireland armed with information on best practice models to use in their engagement with the Government here.
The delegation also met with MEPs, the European Women's Lobby and EUROCHILD, to discuss women's health, education, employment and youth issues.
Access and provision of health services, the right to education, and progress within the workforce, or even returning to the workforce, are problems faced by Irish women every day.
Sinn Féin is one of the only parties in Ireland to bring delegations such as this to the European Parliament and for many of the women, it was their first proper opportunity to represent their interests on a European stage.
Speaking prior to the visit on Wednesday, Mary Lou McDonald said she was delighted to host the event.
"It is an opportunity for women community activists from across the city of Dublin to engage with the European Commission and foster relationships with the community sector across the EU," she said. "The women represent a diverse cross section of the community sector here in Dublin and Sinn Féin has sought to work closely with such groups to assist them in their work."
Among the groups represented by the women on Wednesday were; the Baldoyle Childcare Bureau, Darndale Integrated Childcare Service, Parents Alone Resource Centre, Northwall Women's Centre, Dublin Drugs Task Force and Finglas Childcare Centre. A number of independent community activists and youth workers also travelled as part of the delegation.