Thursday 25 December 2014

Margaretta D'Arcy a constant thorn in side of lawmakers

Profile

Sam Griffin

Published 22/01/2014 | 02:30

Margaretta Darcy met Sabina Higgins last Sunday. Photograph: Andrew Downes
Margaretta Darcy met Sabina Higgins last Sunday. Photograph: Andrew Downes

MARGARETTA D'Arcy has been a constant thorn in the side of lawmakers in Ireland and further afield.

The 79-year-old is an acclaimed writer, actress, playwright and film director but it is her political activism that has thrust her into the public spotlight on most occasions.

She was born in London in 1934 to an Irish father who was a member of the IRA during the War of Independence, while her mother was of Russian Jewish origin.

Her father, Joseph D'Arcy, was a civil servant whose work took the family between Dublin and London.

Margaretta was educated for periods in both cities, including the convent on the Navan Road in Cabra, Dublin, before going on to study drama at Trinity College.

It was during these formative years that she is understood to have developed her political activism and rebellious ideologies.

She first became involved in the campaign against the Vietnam War and later in Northern Ireland, as well as the Greenham Commons Peace Camp and more recently the use of Shannon Airport by the US military and the Shell to Sea campaign

She has been arrested on dozens of occasions, including India in the 1970s with her husband, the English author John Arden, and her four sons, after they were accused of spying by the authorities.

She was separated from her family and placed in a female prison. She spent one week more in prison than the rest of her family after refusing to sign a guilty plea.

Her actions at a meeting of Aosdana, the artists' association, drew much criticism when she refused to stand in honour of murdered PSNI Officer Ronan Kerr following his death in 2011 - insisting a vote should have been taken on the issue.

Her activism took a back seat when she had to care for her husband who suffered from ill health in his final years, and he subsequently passed away two years ago.

She lives in Galway and is receiving treatment for cancer as well as suffering from arthritis in her neck.

She has repeatedly trespassed in Shannon Airport as a member of Galway Alliance Against War.

Irish Independent

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