Why David feels Mary Robinson is "Ireland's Greatest"

Photo:In July 2009 Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian medal awarded in the US, by President Obama.

In July 2009 Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian medal awarded in the US, by President Obama.


One Mayo woman's story

By David MacWilliams

David McWilliams is an author, broadcaster and one of Ireland's leading economic commentators. He has offered compelling arguments on the state of modern Ireland, and feels the country owes a debt of gratitude to Mary Robinson's brave & tireless morality. At the heart of her greatness is the fact that, "In Ireland and around the world, her name stands for justice, moral duty and fearlessness".


The grand-daughter of a fearless Mayo barrister, Mary Robinson has always had the heart to fight for those less well-off than herself, and the intellectual steel to win that fight. When face to face with victims of violence, abuse, famine or oppression, she simply listened - then she used her voice to carry their pleas.


Mary Robinson was never afraid to stand up to what she saw as the unfair or unsavoury vestiges of Old Ireland. She confronted the Catholic Church on issues such as contraception, adoption, single parents and abortion. She confronted the State on issues such as homosexuality and free legal aid. She has never been afraid to speak out, regardless of the personal consequences. On a global level, she stood up to and stared down politicians, presidents and superpowers - all in defence of those without a voice.


Born into a successful middle-class family, Mary Robinson has always seen that privilege as an obligation: to use her education, her intellect, her contacts & resources to help those where were not born into such privilege.


Whoever else tries to lay claim to the creation of the Celtic Tiger, or the great years of modern Ireland, it's Mary Robinson who really is the symbol of everything that was fresh, progressive, inclusive and great about this country.


Mary has been denounced from the pulpit by Archbishops & Cardinals; she has been verbally attacked & vilified by Catholics, Unionists, Israelis & Americans... She shows no fear or favour. On her role alongside Nelson Mandela in The Elders, she said "we won't be compromising just to be popular".


Mary Robinson dragged Ireland into the 20th Century, so that it could be a modern & proud & decent society in the 21st Century. She is an advocate for the underprivileged, known around the world for being an amazing woman, and an amazing human being. While so many of our political class do their utmost to shame, embarrass and ruin us, she is a beacon: a real reason to be proud to be Irish.



This page was added by Averil Staunton on 29/04/2011.