Belfast Telegraph

Centenary celebrations could be held at Westminster for Sinn Fein abstentionist

Prime Minister Theresa May has said it is "important" the UK marks the centenary of the election of the first female MP - who happens to be Sinn Fein abstentionist Constance Markievicz.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Theresa May was responding to a question from her Conservative party colleague Nicky Morgan who noted next year will mark the centenary of the election of the first female MP.

In her response, the Prime Minister said: "Can I say to my right honourable friend that I think it is important that we mark the centenary next year and recognise the role that women have played in this house and in public life.

Mrs May continued: "I want to see young women actually able to see this house as a place they actively want to come to. That they want to contribute to their society, that they want to respond to the needs of local constituents and make a real difference to people’s lives."

Countess Markievicz became the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in December 1918 - making her the only woman elected to Parliament in that year - and the only person it is possible Mrs Morgan could have been referring to.

Constance Markievicz was a central player in the 1916 Rising, and despite being condemned to death, due to being female she had her sentence commuted to penal servitude for life.

She was later released under an amnesty, and became the first woman elected to the House of Commons but did not take the seat as was the policy of her party Sinn Fein at the time.

When contacted by Irish news website TheJournal.ie, No 10 said it was not aware of any planned centenary events.

It is understood clarity around centenary celebrations will be given in due course by Downing Street.

A spokesperson for No 10 told the Belfast Telegraph that updates on centenary celebrations would be posted on the Vote 100 section of Parliament's website.

The Vote 100 project will mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 - which gave all men and some women the vote for the first time. As part of this a number of major exhibitions and events will be held.

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