Saturday 21 September 2019

Tributes to 'fearless advocate' for women's rights

Monica Barnes
Monica Barnes
At the Monica Barnes funeral were John Bailey, TDs Maria Bailey and Kate O’Connell Photos: Gerry Mooney
At Monica Barnes' funeral were President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina. Photos: Gerry Mooney
At Monica Barnes' funeral was former minister Frances Fitzgerald Photos: Gerry Mooney
At Monica Barnes' funeral was former minister Alan Shatter Photos: Gerry Mooney
At Monica Barnes' funeral was former minister Alan Dukes Photos: Gerry Mooney
John Downing

John Downing

Monica Barnes's daughter told her funeral of a recent conversation they shared in which her mother reflected on her long career of political activism.

"I would do it all over again. It was the right thing to do," the former Fine Gael TD and women's rights champion emphatically said.

Dozens of politicians from all parties gathered in Killiney church, south Dublin, for the funeral Mass of the woman who represented Dún Laoghaire for 15 years and packed in six decades of political activism. Ms Barnes died suddenly last week at her home, aged 82.

Her daughter, Sarah, said she believed her beloved son, Paul, who had died some years ago, had come for his mother.

She also recalled a childhood less ordinary, where the typewriter and stencil machine in the living room were in frequent use. An evening's work was often rounded off with a drive with their father, Bob, into Dublin to deliver statements to the national newspapers. "It was fun and it was different," she said.

South African fruit was banned from the house, and the Barnes children became familiar with embassies around Dublin, where they marched for various causes. Monica was encouraged into politics by Fine Gael leader Dr Garret FitzGerald. She was very much on the liberal wing of the party and an opponent of the 1983 Eighth Amendment on abortion.

Monica Barnes, neé McDermott, grew up in Kingscourt, Co Cavan, where her father ran a drapery shop and later worked for Gypsum Industries. She won a scholarship to St Louis secondary school in nearby Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.

President Michael D Higgins attended the funeral yesterday as did Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Frances Fitzgerald, Fergus O'Dowd, Seán Barrett, Kate O'Connell and Maria Bailey.

Those who served with Ms Barnes in attendance included Barry Desmond, Helen Keogh, Avril Doyle, Alan Shatter, Eithne Fitzgerald, and Nora Owen.

Irish Independent

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