Remembering the Men and Women of 1919

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Comóradh An Chéad Dáil Éireann, Faisnéis Neamhspleadhchuis

January 21 1919

It was 98 years ago this month that the Irish National Assembly, Dáil Éireann met for the first time and declared Irish Independence.

This followed the watershed General Election of December 1918, the first held that gave women limited franchise. That election gave supporters of Irish Independence overwhelming victory at the polls. Invitations were sent to all elected members for the 32 counties of Ireland and at that first session, Dáil Éireann pledged to adhere the principles of Liberty, Equality and Justice for all the people of Ireland and to follow the mandate of the 1916 Proclamation to “cherish all the children of the nation equally.”

The first member of a national assembly in Western Europe, Countess Markievicz, was elected and served in the Cabinet of that first democratically elected Irish Government. Women were present and active in all aspects of the national movement for freedom. The British “banned” the democratically elected Government of Ireland, thus ensuring decades of conflict.

And the truncated Free State government set up at the British insistence betrayed the sacrifices made by the women of Ireland in the struggle for freedom by restricting their rights as soon as the Free State took power.

Especially at this time in our history, when we see greed, bigotry , self interest and sexism in the ascendancy, we pay tribute to those brave men and women who selflessly sacrificed so much to establish and to defend the Irish Republic, and pledge ourselves to Éire Nua, a vision of an All Ireland Republic that honors and respects the rights and dignity all its citizens, men and women, and those of all background and faiths.



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