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ISME elects New Chair and National Council

ISMEs newly elected Chair, Margaret O’Rourke Doherty meets with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar after her appointment on May 25th.


  • Margaret O’Rourke Doherty elected Chair for 2021-2023 term
  • Second female chair since the Association was founded in 1993


Dublin, 25th May 2021: The Irish SME Association (ISME) has today announced the election of Margaret O’Rourke Doherty as the new Chair of the National Council for the 2021-2023 term. Margaret is the CEO of the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation (HABIC) and is the 17th Chair of ISME and the second female Chair.

Notably, the new Council elected today is the first with a female majority since ISME’s foundation in 1993 and is comprised of 56% female and 44% male members.

Margaret O’Rourke Doherty, Chair of ISME’s National Council and CEO of the Hair and Beauty Industry Confederation said: “I am delighted and proud to be elected as ISME Chair for the 2021-2023 term, having served as Vice-Chair for the past two years. Today also marks a significant day for ISME, as for the first time ever the National Council has a female majority, with fifteen women on the Council out of twenty-seven members. Female entrepreneurs and business owners are not often given due credit for the high number of businesses they run in the SME sector. Our new Council also reflects sectoral diversity, including service businesses, manufacturing, food, retail and technology.”

Of the twenty-seven new members of the National Council, five members have joined from industry associations representing medical and pharmaceutical, childcare, retail, agriculture, and food and beverage sectors. These include: Healthstores Ireland, the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, the Irish Egg Association, the Association of Fine Jewellers, and the Irish Craft Artisan Distilleries Association.

Margaret O’Rourke Doherty added: “I am also pleased to welcome onto the National Council the heads of other trade groups in the childcare, retail, and artisan food and distillery sectors. Together, building on the achievements of our previous National Councils, we will cement ISME as the independent voice of small enterprise in the Irish economy.”

With over 10,500 members nationwide, ISME’s new Council members are elected owner/managers of SMEs from all over Ireland and from a variety of sectors. 46% of members are based in Dublin, with 19% in the Midlands, 11% in both the North East and South East, 7% in both the North West and South West and 4% in the South of Ireland.

Link to ISME’s new National Council is https://isme.ie/national-council/