Category Archives: Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey
A front-page news story of the September 17, 1970 issue of the Irish Times informed readers of the disruption of the satirical review “A State of Chassis” at the Peacock Theatre. The show was about the civil rights movement and growing conflict in the six counties and was written by John D. Stewart, Tomás MacAnna and Eugene Watters.
Protesters objected to what McCann called the “abysmally ignorant” portrayal of the north and its caricature of Bernadette Devlin.
Among those taking part was Mairin Keegan, a prominent figure in the Marxist-republican organisation Saor Eire.
The text is taken from Hansard; it is, of course, an historical document, a product of its time, thus the references to “Londonderry” and “Northern Ireland” and the use of male forms to denote both men and women:
I understand that in making my maiden speech on the day of my arrival in Parliament and in making it on a controversial issue I flaunt the unwritten traditions of the House, but I think that the situation of my people merits the flaunting of such traditions.
I remind the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) that I, too, was in the Bogside area on the night that he was there. As the hon. Gentleman rightly said, there never was born an Englishman who understands the Irish people. Thus a man who is alien to the ordinary working Irish people cannot understand them, and I therefore respectfully suggest that the hon. Gentleman has no understanding of my people, because Catholics and Protestants are the ordinary people, the oppressed people from whom I come and whom I represent. I stand here as the youngest woman in Parliament, in the same tradition as the first woman ever to be elected to this Parliament, Constance Markievicz, who was elected on behalf of the Irish people.
This debate comes much too late for the people of Ireland, since it concerns itself particularly with the action in Derry last weekend. I will do my best to dwell on the action in Derry last weekend. However, it is impossible to consider the activity of one weekend in a city such as Derry without considering the reasons why these things happen.
The hon. Member for Londonderry said that he stood in Bogside. I wonder whether he could name the streets through which he walked in the Bogside so that we might establish just how well acquainted he became with the area. I had never hoped to see the day when I might agree with someone who represents the bigoted and sectarian Unionist Party, which uses a deliberate policy of dividing the people in order to keep the ruling minority in power and to keep the oppressed people of Ulster oppressed. I never thought that I should see the day when I should agree with any phrase uttered by the representative of such a party, but the hon. Gentleman summed up the situation “to a t”. He referred to stark, human misery. That is what I saw in Bogside. It has not been there just for one night. It has been there for 50 years—and that same stark human misery is to be found in the Protestant Fountain area, which the hon. Gentleman would claim to represent.
These are the people the hon. Gentleman would claim do want to join society. Because they are equally poverty-stricken they are equally excluded from the society which the Unionist Party represents—the society of landlords who, by ancient charter of Charles II, still hold the rights of the ordinary people of Northern Ireland over such things as fishing and as paying the most ridiculous and exorbitant rents, although families have lived for generations on their land. But this is the ruling minority of landlords who, for generations, have claimed to represent one section of the people and, in order to maintain their claim, divide the people into two sections and stand up in this House and say that there are those who do not wish to join the society.
The people in my country who do not wish to join the society which is represented by the hon. Member for Londonderry are by far the majority. There is no place in society for us, the ordinary “peasants” of Read the rest of this entry
by Gary Keenan
On International Women’s Day 2012 a discussion was held in West Belfast’s Conway Mill about the on-going political internment of Marian Price. Bernadette McAliskey emphasised the illusion of normalisation by stating that this sort of meeting should not be taking place in 2012 and that the Six County state was supposed to have embraced democracy. Another of Bernadette’s salient points was that people who are appealing to Sinn Fein to exert their influence to release Marian Price were deluding themselves. Sinn Fein, as part of the Stormont executive, are now administrators of so-called British justice in Ireland.
Although made with good intentions, the appeal for figures such as Raymond McCartney to act on this issue is made from a sentimental point of view and because of past injustices faced by McCartney as a political prisoner. However Republicans will be aware of how former comrades have been quick to turn their back on revolutionary principles once part of the establishment.
Eamonn De Valera, who fought in Easter week and took the Republican side in the Irish Civil War, later as Taoiseach condemned Republican prisoners to death on hunger strike and execution. As Bernadette said “There is no point in Read the rest of this entry
Below is an excellent short clip of Bernadette Devlin (as she then was) speaking about the function religious sectarianism played in the six counties in dividing workers along religious lines to keep them all exploited: