The Women of Ireland, Rocked the System.
The story of Mary Robinson is one that has always had justice, fairness, and equality at its core, and maybe it was this more than anything that saw her become the first woman president of Ireland in 1990.
Long before her rise to the presidency Mary graduated with honours from her Law studies in Trinity College Dublin in 1967. That same year she fulfilled the role of auditor of the Dublin University Law Society and in her first address she advocated removing the prohibition of divorce in the Irish Constitution, eliminating the ban on the use of contraceptives, and decriminalising homosexuality and suicide
Not only did Mrs. Robinson defeat the both the Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael candidates in her bid to lead Ireland, but she did so from an independent platform supported by Ireland's Labour party. Once in place, she transformed the role from a low-key position viewed almost as a retiring home for aging politicians who acted as a conservative figure head.
She took a direct stance against political party bias and moved the role of Ireland's leader into an active Liberal arena. During her first address as the newly elected leader of Ireland she made her stance very clear;
"I must be a President for all the people, but more than that, I want to be a President for all the people,"
"Because I was elected by men and women of all parties and none, by many with great moral courage, who stepped out from the faded flags of the Civil War and voted for a new Ireland, and above all by the women of Ireland, mná na hÉireann, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system."
This still rings as a very clear message of what a president should be. Not a person looking out for one person, or some people, or some categories / ethenicities, but a person who looks our for all people, equally. A person who exists without bias, but with a focus on equality and acceptance.
One of the best examples of this was when she chose to meet the Dalai Lama on his tour of Ireland, despite pressure from the Chinese Government. She was the only political figure to do so despite the urging of the then Taoiseach Charlie Haughey.
Mary Robinson left her position as Irish president two months before the end of her term in order to take up the position of High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations where she served for five years, advocating always for acceptance and awareness for all.
Time and again she stood up to some of most powerful and influential organizations in the world calling them out on their abuses of Human rights from the Catholic Church, arguing in favor of abortion, contraception and divorce, to the United States and the pursuit of capital punishment.
Our first woman president is truly a hero to not just the people of the island but many peoples all over the world whose rights she so vocally advocated for.
Here's to you, Mrs Robinson...
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