March 2013        

Women written out of history

The women of Ireland are a dreadfully exploited segment in our society. After the revolution in the earlier part of the last century they were deliberately written out of our history, and from there the work they contributed to our society was in many ways degraded. The Magdalene laundries are another example of how this failed state failed in its duty to them.
      Women are true revolutionaries; I can think of many fine examples. My own mother, who at thirteen walked to school in her bare feet, was made to stand in a corner facing the wall because of a speech impediment. She then brought up twelve children when money was hard to come by and in tough conditions.
      My own favourite is Celia Sánchez, a truly amazing woman who fought for Cuba against overwhelming odds, and became a lover of Fidel (we are told).
      Madge Davison was a remarkable young woman and a leading light in the struggle for basic civil rights in the Six Counties, the first general secretary of the Connolly Youth Movement, later a member of the NEC of the Communist Party of Ireland. Her role in breaking the curfew on the Falls Road is the stuff of legend; unfortunately she died young, and is missed to this day.
      Betty Sinclair, from a working-class family in the Ardoyne in west Belfast, in 1932 became a member of the Revolutionary Workers’ Group, a forerunner of the CPI, and a dedicated communist activist until 1981, serving the needs of her community and in the wider context the workers of Ireland and Europe. She did time in a British prison but, never failing in her commitment, in 1945 received more than 4,500 votes in the discredited elections in the North. She was a founder-member of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1967.
      Four women who fought against discrimination and the brutality of capitalism. We salute you.

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