Foyle MP Elisha McCallion has reiterated that she will not take an oath to a British monarch or sit in the British Parliament, as she joined others to mark the 100th anniversary of the historic election victory of Countess Constance Markievicz.
In a wide ranging address, Mrs. McCallion warned that women today still face barriers when it came to the political arena.
Mrs. McCallion was speaking as she addressed a gathering at the launch of a new mural by the Markievicz Historical Society on Racecourse Road to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1918 general election. The event included poems, songs and the premiere of a new commemorative film charting the life and times of Countess Constance Markievicz.
Addressing those gathered, Mrs. McCallion said that as well as marking those historic events 100 years ago, it was also important to celebrate “the steps that women have taken in that period to establish their rightful role in the world and, in particular, the world of politics.
She said: “It is difficult to believe that what is now a recognised and fundamental right, was denied to a person solely on the basis of their gender. Indeed it is not that long ago in this city that a vote was denied to our fellow citizens on the basis of their religion and property ownership.”
In terms of denial of rights, she said, people need only look at the disaster that has occurred and continues to occur by the denial of the wishes of the people of Ireland concerning the Brexit debate.
“Let it not be forgotten that the vote in the North was to remain and the view of Europe is that we should be entitled to remain. We should not be afraid of the attempted veto and scaremongering that the DUP is seeking to exercise over the British Government and people and their complete disregard of the democratically express wishes of the people of the North of Ireland – we have strong representation in the Dail and in Europe. We must never forget, as my colleague MEP set out, that ‘Westminster does not now act – and never has acted – other than in the interests of Britain. As our difficult and troubled history tells us, the interests of the Irish people have rarely been the concern of the British Government or Parliament’. We will not accept any return to this status quo of perceived dominance of others – we have Countess Markievicz and many others to thank for that.”
Mrs. McCallion said women in leadership positions still faced indirect barriers such as childcare provision which “need to be addressed and addressed so that women can flourish.”
She added: “On a final point about Republican women in politics, I am sometimes asked by ill-informed journalists and media sources about Sinn Fein and abstentionism – can I say that I am an Irish woman elected to a constituency in Ireland - of which I am proud to represent each and every person - but, as an Irish woman who believes that Ireland should be, and is, best served by its own people. I will not take an oath of allegiance to the British monarch, nor will I sit in a British Parliament.
“If that stance was good enough and principled enough for Constance Markievicz, it is good enough for me.”