Nicola Sturgeon has been likened to the Irish republican heroine Countess Constance Markievicz in a new book identifying similarities in their desire for women’s equality.
The comparison between the First Minister and the Sinn Fein politician who took up arms against the British 100 years ago is drawn in a study of the role played by Scots in the 1916 Easter Rising.
As Dublin prepares to commemorate the centenary of the violent rebellion which led to the foundation of modern Ireland, the book, Scotland And The Easter Rising, reflects on the links between the two nations.
A chapter “Short Skirts, Strong Boots and a Revolver: Scotland and the Women of 1916”, written by co-editor Kirsty Lusk looks at Sturgeon and Markievicz.
Lusk found echoes of Markievicz’s attempts to attract the women of Ireland to her cause in Sturgeon’s recent speeches on gender equality.
During the Rising, Markievicz fought at St Stephen’s Green. Before the rebellion she had been active in the Irish Women Workers’ Union and the Irish Women’s Franchise league. She was also a leading light in the radical Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland) nationalist organisation.
It was Markievicz’s work with the women’s movement rather than her support of violent revolution, which prompted Lusk to make the comparison with Sturgeon.
Lusk observed: “There is no doubt that the Scottish independence movement, like the Irish independence movement, has encouraged political engagement amongst women, particularly young women. Countess Markievicz was the first female MP, Nicola Sturgeon is the first female Scottish First Minister and both have encouraged young women to engage not just in politics but every aspect of civic life. Markievicz took the first step on a long journey towards achieving gender equality in political representation and Nicola Sturgeon has taken another, insisting on a gender balance in her Cabinet. There is an echo of Markievicz’s appeal to the young women of Ireland in Sturgeon’s appeal to the young women of Scotland.”
A SNP spokesman said: “While Countess Markievicz was clearly a very significant figure in Irish history, Scotland in 2016 is a very different place to the Dublin of 1916, so comparisons like this aren’t very meaningful – however the cause of gender equality is one that still needs championed, which is why the SNP is proud that we have one of very few gender balanced cabinets anywhere in the world.”