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'Forget Gay Byrne, Edna brought sex to nation'


Edna O Brien. Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Edna O Brien. Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Edna O Brien. Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Writer Edna O' Brien brought sex to Ireland – not Gay Byrne's 'Late Late Show', according to the first female Master of the National Maternity Hospital.

Dr Rhona Mahony was in gutsy form as she described the Co Clare-born novelist, pictured, as one of her favourite role models and a "brilliant writer".

The medic – who recently claimed she was vilified during the top-ups controversy when she clarified that her €40,000 extra allowance came from her own private practice – was guest speaker at a lunch in Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel to celebrate International Women's Day.

It was organised by An Cosan, an organisation in Tallaght, Co Dublin, which offers adult education and other services to women from disadvantaged areas.

When it comes to 'girl power' Dr Mahony also listed Kathleen Lynn, a medical doctor and nationalist who founded a hospital for Dublin's poor in 1919, as a woman who deserves to be recognised.

Her other female heroines who helped change Ireland for the better were the late comedienne Maureen Potter, former President Mary Robinson, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Denham.

But the great "badge of honour" should go to the late right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming.

She told the gathering that she firmly believes that "education is absolutely linked to health, social well-being and a myriad of good things. Lack of education paralyses us and takes away our opportunity.

"If someone gave me €100m I would spend the first half on a new maternity hospital and the rest to education and not to health."

When babies were born in Holles Street and wrapped in their blue blanket, they were at their most equal. When they left their paths diverged, she said.

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"In a short time they will leave that blanket and for some home will be amazing warm and loved. For others they will be at best ignored, they won't be loved and they could be abused.

"From the word go those children have no chance."

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