It may be a party led by two impressive women, but it very much appears that whatever environment Sinn Féin is fostering in its corridor of Leinster House, it’s pushing other women out.
It is a fact that Sinn Féin is the party with the biggest female representation, with 13 women elected to the Dáil.
The other two “medium” sized parties pale in comparison. Fine Gael has six female deputies, Fianna Fáil has just five.
It is also a fact that Sinn Féin has had more high-profile resignations of female representatives than the other two put together in the last two Dáil terms.
Violet-Anne Wynne should have been a cause for celebration for the party. A working-class Protestant woman, who moved from Dublin to a rural constituency, won a seat where Sinn Féin had floundered previously, thrust, by her own admission, from claiming jobseeker’s allowance to the corridors of power.
As a young mother of six, every effort to back her should have been made, because if you take the party at its word, these are the people Sinn Féin believes should be helping run the country.
There is no guidebook to becoming a TD, no one explains how committees work, how speaking time is doled out and what a private member’s bill is. You sink or swim, and it is clear Ms Wynne had been sinking for a while.
Paired with an unplanned pregnancy, and far from the fanfare and Oireachtas pairing Justice Minister Helen McEntee received for her happy news, Ms Wynne says she couldn’t even manage office cover properly.
Sinn Féin can not say it was unaware of its young deputy’s constituency issues. This newspaper asked its press office about it a year ago. In its own statement on Friday morning, it said it was working to “resolve” them.
Like Sandra McLellan before her, who claimed that she was the victim of a “vicious” campaign, Ms Wynne notes she felt “gaslit” and a victim of “psychological warfare”.
The Cork East TD Ms McLellan said she was constantly undermined by figures within the party.
On Friday, Ms Wynne said:
I feel I have been isolated and steps have been taken to ensure that I would face greater difficulties, locally.”
Calling this deja vu is laughable, only because if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.
In a time where we are threatening to punish parties who don’t get enough women on their electoral ballots, those who have managed to win against the odds don’t even think it’s worth staying, and feel actively harassed by those who are meant to be on their side.
In the aftermath of the resignation, it was obvious that Sinn Féin, to use its favourite phrase, “just don’t get it”.
Confronted with the first resignation of a TD under her tenure, a young mother clearly struggling, the president of Ireland’s most popul