Tuesday 25 October 2016

Country has been celebrating 1916 mirage - O'Reilly

Published 08/08/2016 | 02:30

European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly
European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly

The country has been celebrating a "mirage" - because the 1916 Proclamation was "shot to ribbons" in the days after the Easter Rising, European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has said.

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In a provocative speech, Ms O'Reilly has argued that it is only when we joined the European Union in 1973 that Irishmen and Irishwomen began to share equal rights as envisaged by the leaders of the Rising.

Speaking at the Parnell Summer School in Wicklow, Ms O'Reilly said: "We had been to the 1916 party, worn the uniforms, fired the guns, sat in the jails, nursed the sick, waked the dead; the party ended and so, essentially, did we, did any possibility of playing a full and equal role in the subsequent development of this State."

Ms O'Reilly noted that, while Constance Markievicz became a minister in 1919, it took another 60 years before a second woman was appointed to Cabinet.

"It took the international world, it took foreigners and strangers, it took outsiders, to bring us back into the light, back into the dancing of the public sphere," she said.

Ms O'Reilly served as Ireland's Ombudsman and Information Commissioner from 2003 until 2013, when she was elected European Ombudsman by the European Parliament.

"I stand before you as a representative of those children of the nation for whom the Rising was, at its most benign, an important historical event in their lives, at its most venal, the raising of the flag for a period during which the humanity of every Irish woman was not just denied but actively legislated against," she said.

"In many ways we are this year celebrating a mirage, imagining, reinventing, re-imagining, whatever, something that if it ever was real was real for women only for that time between Pearse's march to surrender and the peals of rifles that stilled his voice forever one week later.

"Perhaps it was the Proclamation itself that was actually shot to ribbons in those days and weeks," she said.

Irish Independent

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