Helen Keogh
HELEN KEOGH

Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




Credits

Interviews

Start

Index

The Team

Help

Aims

email

[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Jan 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Helen Keogh

Political Development

Senator Helen Keogh joined the Women's Political Association(WPA) in the early 1980's out of interest and wanting to be involved. She was involved as a supporter within the WPA, serving time as president and active in campaigning, leafleting etc. Senator Keogh was inspired by women such as Gemma Hussey, Monica Barnes, Nuala Fennell, Mary O'Rourke, Maire Geoghan Quinn and of course her party leader Mary Harney.
Senator Keogh is first generation politician, in that there was no political involvement or policy making tradition in her family. She hopes she is not the last generation and says her two daughters, one of whom is studying politics and philosophy in university may follow in her footsteps but obviously that is a decision for them.
It was through informal contact with Deputy Mary Harney T.D., then of Fianna Fail, she learned that a new party was about to form as a result of a split in the FF party and felt that the Progressive Democrats(PD) would be an ideal starting point for her entrance into party politics. This was December 21st 1985. Since joining there have been political disruptions namely, in the 1987 Senator Keogh was not elected to a Dail seat and the 1997 elections she was not successful in being re-elected. She has however maintained her Local County Council seats and was elected to the Senate in 1997.
Senator Keogh would say that her objectives have not changed significantly during her political career aside from constant updating on information and knowledge and keeping abreast of changes. Her focus has been on women's rights, social community and family affairs and lifelong learning and education in particular early childhood education. She is the PD spokesperson for Education, Social Community and Family Affairs.

to the top

Party Affiliation

To be in at the beginning of a new party which had a liberal agenda and a clear focus on the enterprise model was the core attraction to party politics for Senator Keogh. The Progressive Democrats party was formed in 1985 when a number of key Deputies split from the largest party (i.e. Fianna Fail). Senator Keogh has played a role in executive level within the PD's since it's foundation and is currently their spokesperson on Social Community Family Affairs. She does not hold an office within the party and believes wholeheartedly in "spreading the opportunities".
While the PD's do not have a specific equal opportunities regulation, as it is the only party with a 50:50 membership, they fully support recent legislative changes in employment equality and equal status. While no formal mentoring system is in place, they extend an informal support system across constituencies.
On June 15, 2000 - after this interview had been done - Senator Keogh decided to change party affiliation. She joined Fine Gael pointing out that she had grown 'uneasy' in recent times at the way the Progressive Democrats were 'melting back into 'Fianna Fáil.' She kept her seat in the Seanad.

to the top

Profession/ Current priorities

Senator Keogh is a qualified teacher and Guidance Counsellor and has been involved in running the family business. She feels these have given her a solid grounding for the issues, and correspond with her core political work. Her's are a BA degree with a Higher Diploma in Education and a Higher Diploma in Guidance Counselling and she has taught, been employed as a guidance counsellor in the second level education system and involved in running the family business.
Her priorities are in education, enterprise development, community and social issues particularly those relating to families and parents. She is also Chairwoman of the Dublin Wellwoman Centre and a member of Network of Women in Business.

to the top

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

Early childhood education and the establishment of the Irish childcare infrastructure are two core objectives for the coming years.
Across the parties while not experienced in her own (former) party, Senator Keogh agrees that discrimination continues to exist however more and more it is becoming important for political parties to have women on their tickets. A combination of visibility, natural turnover and in some cases positive action change will happen however changes in how business is being done, timing, childcare etc, will continue to be obstacles/barriers for women and in many cases now young men, to be attracted to the political life.
With regard to Equal Opportunities Senator Keogh believes that current legislative changes will facilitate equality, not just in employment but also in society in general with the introduction of the Equal Status legislation later this year.
A central obstacle to people choosing politics as a career would be the current tribunal findings where proof of corruption of few will tend to tarnish many. She believes a number of initiatives will be needed to counteract the negative impact of such "sleaze" elements.

to the top