Friday 19 October 2018

Sabina Higgins celebrates the 1918 anti-conscription women

GIRL POWER: Micheline Sheehy Skeffington and Sabina Higgins stand on a vintage tram during the La na mBan/Women’s Day 1918 commemorative event outside The Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin
GIRL POWER: Micheline Sheehy Skeffington and Sabina Higgins stand on a vintage tram during the La na mBan/Women’s Day 1918 commemorative event outside The Mansion House, Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Thousands of Irish women, who rebelled against men being conscripted to the British war effort 100 years ago, were commemorated at a special ceremony in Dublin yesterday.

It was part of a series of events around the capital organised to coincide with La na mBan, Women's Day 1918, as a tribute to the Irish women who mobilised against the enforced conscription of Irish men into the British Army during World War I.

Sabina Higgins, an actress and the wife of President Michael D Higgins, crafted and delivered a soapbox style speech from a vintage 19th Century tram parked outside Dublin's Mansion House.

The first-person piece was designed to echo the messages many of the Irish anti-conscription leaders would have delivered at the time.

She was joined by Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, the granddaughter of suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, prominent trade unionists and women's rights campaigners.

As part of her rousing speech, Mrs Higgins called on Irish women to reject and oppose conscription.

"There are many inequalities which we must fight against," she said.

"We must continue our campaign for the right to equal pay for equal work and the right to decent housing, health, education and an end to poverty.

"It is to all of these campaigns we will give our energies." Mrs Higgins then held a copy of the anti-conscription pledge aloft.

"We will not fill the places of men deprived of their work through refusing enforced military service.

"We will do all in our power to help the families of men who suffer through refusing enforced military service."

The event was organised by Siptu and coincides with the erection of a La na mBan-themed banner at Liberty Hall last week. Organiser and Siptu deputy general secretary Ethel Buckley commended Mrs Higgins for taking part.

"Each of our speakers and performers has made a massive contribution in continuing the work of the women of 1918 by building towards an Ireland that is a more equal place for women to live and work," she said.

Sunday Independent

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