given by President Mary McAleese, Uachtarán na hÉireann
31 August 2011
The former President of the Irish Republic spoke at Féile an Phobail over a year ago, while entering the final days of her Presidency. Her lecture explained her admiration of the eponymous Paddy McGrory, a so-called 'human rights defender' who worked as a solicitor in Belfast. Mr McGrory has been quoted, however, as positing that the term "human rights lawyer" should not be attached to legal professionals as all lawyers, in fact, work to ensure that their own clients' human rights are not breached.
Paddy McGrory's son, Barra, is now the head of Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and has spoken out about the legacy of the Troubles through the prism of law and mechanisms for investigating and prosecuting. In her lecture, Mary McAleese spoke more generally about how each individual - and particularly advocates of rights-based systems at home and abroad - may guarantee that breaches do not occur.
It’s in not giving up, it’s in refusing to be cowed, it’s in holding onto that vision of a just and peaceful society, [and] committing to that vision – through thick, through thin – that the small steps of progress will accrete to what history will one day judge to be giant leaps forward...
We need a lot of people who don’t swerve, a lot of people who stay faithful to those things that their instincts tell them are right action. We need people to stand their ground; 'seas an fód', mar a deireann sé as Gaeilge... That’s what we need to do to ensure that our future is the future that we do not just wish - but will - to leave to our children.
You can listen to this inspirational speech at the links below.
Part 1 of 2: http://soundcloud.com/cultureni/president-mary-mcaleese-part1
Part 2 of 2: http://soundcloud.com/cultureni/president-mary-mcaleese-part
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