Sunday 25 June 2017

Sabina warns against 'empires of greed' in rousing 1916 speech

Rally cry: Sabina Higgins, wife of president Michael D Higgins, speaks at the graveside of Countess Constance Markievicz in Glasnevin Cemetery Photo: Tony Gavin
Rally cry: Sabina Higgins, wife of president Michael D Higgins, speaks at the graveside of Countess Constance Markievicz in Glasnevin Cemetery Photo: Tony Gavin
Sabina Higgins lays a wreath yesterday Photo: Tony Gavin
Countess Constance Markievicz Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Sabina Higgins, the wife of President Michael D Higgins, has used her 1916 speech at the graveside of Countess Markievicz in Glasnevin Cemetery to warn the Irish people against "empires of greed".

In an emotionally charged speech, she railed against "a new form of capitalism" which she says is "even more powerful and less visible and less accountable" than that in existence 100 years ago.

In echoes of President Higgins' severe critique of neo- liberal capitalism in New York last year, Mrs Higgins said she hoped people would become "inspired" and "enfired" by the heroes of 1916 to meet the challenges of our time.

Ms Higgins described how "Connolly and Countess Constance Markievicz and others realised there was no hope for the workers unless they could break with [the] empire and they decided to strike for freedom to organise to have a revolution."

She said: "They joined with Pearse and the others and on Easter Sunday 100 years ago - they fought and the Irish Republic Proclamation was read outside the GPO and we had our foundational event of the country that we are now. "

She continued: "It is my hope that, drawing from the endurance and vision of Countess Constance Markievicz and her sister Eva Gore Booth, and all the other great women and men of their time whose stories we are only now getting to know about, that we will be inspired.

"And that their example will enfire us with enthusiasm so that we women and men in 2016 will meet the challenges of our time.

"Now 100 years later in this contemporary and globalised world there is a new form of capitalism," she said. "And that seeks to undermine democracy itself."

She added: "The empires of greed are even more powerful and less visible and less accountable. The challenges are only too clear as we see the suffering of our fellow men and women across the globe."

Speaking to the small gathering at Glasnevin, she also went on to address women's inequality, climate change, conflict and poverty.

Earlier in her speech, Ms. Higgins recalled how the first principle of the Irish Citizen's Army Constitution had been the "avowal that the ownership of Ireland, moral and material, is vested of right in the people of Ireland, and included the principles of equal rights and opportunities for the Irish people."

Dressed in a bottle green coat and dress by Irish designer Helen McAlinden, and finished with a brown feather in her matching hat, Mrs Higgins laid a wreath at the grave of Countess Markievicz in a gentle rain yesterday afternoon.

Speaking about the 1916 leader, she described her as "a true revolutionary and seasoned activist, campaigner and public speaker."

"Her's was a radical life in the fullest sense," she said.

Sunday Independent

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