Irish Republican News · October 3, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: British Labour Party to pay tribute to Irish revolutionary
British Labour Party to pay tribute to Irish revolutionary

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British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced plans to honour the Irish republican hero Countess Markievicz, the first woman ever elected to the Westminster parliament in London.

The Labour leader told his party’s conference on women that her election, while in prison, had been “an important footnote in history”.

Constance Markievicz, from County Sligo, was second-in-command of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) during the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland.

The ICA had been established to defend and support ordinary workers in Dublin, who were taking a stand against the British Crown Forces.

She escaped the firing squad on the grounds of gender and had her death sentence commuted to life in prison but was released.

Arrested again in 1917, the countess was detained for two years in Holloway Prison, situated in Mr Corbyn’s Islington North constituency.

She was still in custody when elected to the Commons in 1918 so unable to take her seat in the British Parliament.

The following year, she became the first female Irish cabinet minister, a record that was to stand for the next 60 years.

In a speech, she once famously advised: “Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels and gold wands in the bank, and buy a revolver.”

Mr Corbyn said: “I have been discussing this with the women colleagues on Islington Council and when we rebuild our library next to the prison, we are going to have a plaque, a memorial up, so that all the generations can understand the contribution that Connie Markievicz and so many others made.”

FAMINE RECALLED

There have been signs of a general awakening to Irish history beyond the 26 County state.

Although Mr Corbyn’s suggestion was criticised in the British media, there have also been calls for a memorial to be erected in London to all of those who died in the Easter 1916 rebellion.

In the North, the first National Famine Commemoration ceremony to take place there was held last weekend.

The annual event has been running since 2008 to commemorate those who died in in the great hunger of 1840s.

It was held in Newry last Saturday, September 26, when a minute’s silence was held and wreaths were laid in memory of those lost, with more than a million dying.

A special plaque was unveiled in Warrenpoint to commemorate those who died of hunger and disease when Irish food produce was exported to Britain despite a failure of the important potato crop.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys Humphreys, from County Monaghan, said it was a “great honour” to be in Newry to remember those who had lost their lives.

“We remember all those who suffered as a result of the Famine, regardless of their creed, political affiliation or nationality,” she said.

The tragedy of a ‘coffin ship’ of emigrants which hit an iceberg and sank was recalled. The Hannah left Warrenpoint in April 1849 with approximately 170 passengers and crew on board. She sank in the Gulf of St Lawrence on April 29th, 1849 with at least 49 deaths, though the ship’s list was lost and nobody knows exactly how many people were on board.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness said it was an “important period of reflection for all of us”.

“Given the circumstances that we’re seeing internationally with the plight of the refugees, it brings it all home to us very eloquently how important it is for us, as people who have known suffering in the past, to contribute to the alleviating of the suffering of others,” he said.

© 2015 Irish Republican News