Mary Robinson talks on her life, career and Ireland’s role in world affairs in the 21st century
Cahir O'Doherty speaks with Ireland's former President Mary Robinson
Former President Mary Robinson is one of the main architects of modern Ireland. But as a woman in a man’s world, as a courageous voice of modernity in a time of slavish conformity, her achievements are really twice themselves.
Cahir O'Doherty talks to the Irish political figurehead about her new memoir, Everybody Matters, a fascinating meditation on her life and career, and hears about her vision for Ireland’s role in world affairs in the 21st century.
For an Irish person, meeting Mary Robison in person is a remarkable experience. No matter what your personal politics, there is no denying the fact that she is one of the main architects of modern Ireland.
This week Robison, 68, originally from Ballina in County Mayo is in New York to give an author’s talk at the famed Cooper Union in Manhattan about her riveting new memoir, Everybody Matters, My Life Giving Voice. The book charts each decade of her life as an Irish public figure fighting for a fairer nation and world.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been 16 years since Robinson’s groundbreaking Irish presidency ended. What is more remarkable still is that it’s been 46 years since she laid her progressive vision for the nation to a packed (and stunned) audience during her inaugural address as auditor of the Law Society at Trinity College in 1967.
The Ireland of 1967, with its casually fundamentalist attitudes and cultural insularity, can seem further away in time than it actually is. This was the era, for example, when priests publicly scolded young women for their fashion choices, where mothers who had children outside of marriage were treated like shameful pariahs (often their children were too), where domestic violence was considered a private family affair, and where contraceptives and their use were illegal. Repression was so common it went mostly unnoticed.
This was the social background to Robinson’s courageous and groundbreaking 1967 speech about how the “special position” of the Catholic Church in the Irish Constitution enforced Catholic morality under the law, which in her opinion mistakenly turned “sin” into “crime.”
Instead Robinson, who was 23 at the time, gamely suggested removing from the Irish Constitution the prohibition on divorce, alongside lifting the ban on contraceptives and decriminalizing homosexuality, on the basis that these were all personal moral issues that should not be subject to the law of the state, but instead should be up to the individual to choose based on his or her own moral or religious code. At the time she also advocated in favor of children’s rights, an idea that would take a further 25 years before it was even taken seriously.
That Robinson’s speech was given in Ireland, two years before the Stonewall riots in New York, is remarkable enough in itself, but she then went on to dedicate her legal and political life to attaining these very rights one by one. Her public career can be seen as an attempt to hand the individual the power to determine his or her own fate, rather than have them determined by the state.
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SylviasDaddy, that IS a recording of Jimmy Durante singing "Make Someone Happy".Racist incidents in Ireland up by 85 percent says Immigrant Council
Ah Nicomax, the book is about saving Christmas not destroying Buddha, therefore one needn't being angry to celebrate the birth of Christ.Sarah Palin is saving Christmas
Palin, as with many angry Christians, continue to conflate Jesus Christ with God. An attack on Jesus is an attack on God. Of course as we know a major