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‘Sparks of hope’: Mary Robinson’s Late Late Show appearance was the best thing about the week


By Jennifer McShane
03rd Nov 2018
‘Sparks of hope’: Mary Robinson’s Late Late Show appearance was the best thing about the week

It was with a heavy heart that many of us watched an extremely divisive 2018 Presidential Election Campaign. We heard very little of the importance of women’s rights throughout, or how the fight for real, impactful change would only be achieved if we were all working towards the same vision of togetherness. It was one that didn’t speak of a united Ireland, at least, until the victory speech.

So, if you were feeling in any way down about the current state of affairs, former President of Ireland, the eloquent, formidable and always vibrant Mary Robinson’s appearance on the Late Late Show on Friday night will be a balm to any bruised soul.

Related: Mary Robinson From The IMAGE Archives: Our 1991 Interview

If ever we needed a reminder that she is, as IMAGE Digital Editor Dominique McMullan so rightfully put it, “the unsung Irish hero of our time” this was it. She is still fighting for the people, and indeed, she’s one of Ireland’s greatest people; a proud and much-needed champion of women’s rights, human rights and now turing her attention to climate change and the fight to save the planet.

‘Sparks of hope’

She was actually on following the announcement that she has been appointed as chair of The Elders, an international organisation of public figures noted as elder statespeople, peace activists and human rights advocates. The non-governmental organisation, which campaigns for peace and human rights, was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007. She is its third chairperson, and though she told Ryan Tubridy she initially hadn’t liked the the term ‘The Elders’ – “I thought it sounded really arrogant” – after meeting Mandela, she recognised the importance of the organisation and their job to give more than “sparks of hope” to people around the world.

She spoke beautifully on a variety of topics, including the Eighth Amendment, in which she said she was “very proud” of modern Ireland, and in particular, Ireland’s young women for showing great courage in coming forward. “They told their stories, they showed great courage and I was very proud of that.”

On the subject of the recent presidential election she said she was happy to see Michael D Higgins re-elected, though of her own time in office, she said the hardest decision she made was the choice not to run for a second term. Of Peter Casey’s controversial comments on the travelling community, it was she who spoke the words that should have been said in response.

“We’ve done a lot in this country to recognise and value the travelling community, the travelling community have done a lot for us. The trouble with being a small minority is that any negative comments seems to effect everyone. I remember how hard we had to work to make sure that people did understand and respect that community. There is always a tendency for one side to demonise the other; be frightened of the other and not respect the other… It’s a populist, simplified narrative; often a narrative of putting down people to advance causes.”

“I like to speak about President Trump as little as possible”

Her comments about Trump also hit the nail well and truly on the head.

She then spoke of crucial juncture in which we’re at in the battle to save the planet.

But throughout, her positivity for the way forward shone though. “This is not a good time, this is a bumpy time, but it’s not the worst time either. We can see our way forward. We have to counter [these times] with good arguments, and say how do we deal with our problems except by coming together?”

The main consensus is that how ever bad things might get, we always have Mary Robinson. And thank goodness for it.

You can watch the full interview over on RTE Player now  

Photo: RTE