independent

Friday 19 October 2018

Remembering women's fight for equality

President Michael D Higgins with Mona Daly, Dundalk, Constance Short, Blackrock and Angela Dullaghan, Greenore, guests of President and Sabina Higgins at a Garden Party in Árasan Uachtaráin on Wed 27th to celebrate the suffragette movement and the centenary of some women getting the vote in 1918
President Michael D Higgins with Mona Daly, Dundalk, Constance Short, Blackrock and Angela Dullaghan, Greenore, guests of President and Sabina Higgins at a Garden Party in Árasan Uachtaráin on Wed 27th to celebrate the suffragette movement and the centenary of some women getting the vote in 1918
Jane Behan, Mullaghacrew,Co Louth with her sons James and Louis with President Higgins and his dog, at a garden party in Árasan Uachtaráin

Margaret Roddy

A number of local women attended the Garden Party in Áras an Uchtaráin, last Wednesday, to celebrate the suffragette movement and the centenary of some women getting the vote in 1918.

The event was hosted by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina as part of their summer season of garden parties.

Among those who attended was local artist and activist Constance Short. 'It was a fantastic event, very enjoyable,' said Constance, who has known President Higgins and Sabina for many years.

'I've known them since I was in my twenties,' she said. 'Sabina was involved with Focus Theatre and I was involved with the Project Arts Centre at that time, while Michael was involved in the arts and the Labour Party, which I was very active in at the time.'

She has kept in touch with the couple over the years and was delighted to be among the group of local women who attended the event, along with Mona Daly, Angela Dullaghan, Ailbhe Rogers, and Leah Hennessy.

'The guests were incredibly diverse representing all political parties and none. I have only seen this happen in President D Higgins time,' said Constance. 'The guests also included women's groups from throughout the country, including Islamic women in veils. and amazing women historians like Ailbhe Rogers and Sinead McCoole. and political activists like Ailbhe Smyth who ran the Repeal campaign.'

She added that she would like to seek President Higgins serve another term, calling on all parties to support him.

'I say this not because he is a friend but because I believe that Michael D Higgins has the imagination and generosity to see us through the commemorations of the next few years. We have the War of Independence, The Treaty, The 1921 elections returning Cumann na nGael (later Fine Gael), The bloody Civil War where friend killed friend, brothers were on opposite sides and Taoiseach Cosgrave interned large numbers of anti treaty people including our own Dorothy Macardle.'

'Michael D Higgins and Sabina, who works as an equal with him, will honour everyone's position with respect,' she continued. 'I make no apology that it is the artist in him, the poet, who takes this inclusive position. It is an essential of the artist to have an open mind and couple that with the generosity of Sabina and Michael D Higgins and we have a presidency we can be immensely proud of as Irish people.'

Speaking at the Garden Party, President Higgins recalled Irish women's struggle for freedom and equality.

'Let us pay tribute now, 100 years later, to the struggle of those women who one hundred years ago sought to shape a truly just, inclusive and sustainable republic of equal citizens,' he said. 'In our century, there are new challenges to be faced and new rights to be won.'

The Argus

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