GinearáltaImeachtaíLéachtaí Pobail

Inez McCormack

[tab: Gaeilge]

imccormack1

Inez McCormack: streachailt saoil ar son daoine ar an imeall

 

Le Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh

 

28-1-13

 

Níl amhras ar bith ach go mbeidh pobail faoi mhíbhuntáiste agus a gcuid abhcóidí thíos le caillúint thragóideach Inez McCormack an tseachtain seo caite i ndiaidh tinnis ghairid. Óir is iad siúd ar an imeall a bhain tairbhe as obair saoil Inez, inar chuir sí a cuid scileanna suntasacha mar eagraí, straitéisí, idirbheartaí, aislingí, óráidí, agus ceannaire chun seirbhís na cosmhuintire. Ceannaire umhal a bhí inti, áfach, a mhúnlaigh modh oibre modhúil, mar a dúirt iar-uachtaran na hÉireann, Mary Robinson, a thaispeáin, ‘that you can achieve so much more if you don’t need the credit’.

 

Ón ról s’aicí sa streachailt chorraitheach ar son cheart sibhialta sna mallseascaidí, d’fhoghlaim Inez nárbh fhéidir troid ionraic a dhéanamh in éadan na héagóra mura bhfuil tú toilteanach an tsaincheist a ainmniú. Thuig sí nach dtiteann aon athrú on spéir anuas agus nach dtig bheith ag fanacht ar na ‘cúinsí’ cearta mar nach mbíonn na cúinsí cearta ann ariamh dóibh siúd atá faoi chois.

 

Níor umhlaigh Inez ó na saincheisteanna is deacra, is cuma más glantóirí otharlainne a bhí i gceist, Caitlicigh gan cearta fostaíochta, Protastúnaigh gan deiseanna oideachais, Gaeilgeoirí ó Ghlór na nGael nó mná ag fulaingt drochíde tí.

Chuir sí a cloigeann os cionn an ghainimh ainneoin go ndearnadh í a dhamnú dá bharr.

 

Nuair a sheas sí amach sna hochtóidí ar son reachtaíochta fostaíochta cothroime do Chaitlicigh i bhfoirm prionsabail Mhic Giolla Bhríde, cuireadh ina leith gur tacadóir ar son na cogaíochta a bhí inti. Lean sí uirthí ag ardú a gutha in aghaidh na bochtaineachta sa dispeansáid úr, beag beann ar an tuairim choitianta gur chiallaigh seo go raibh tú in éadan na síochána.

 

D’fhéadfaí maíomh, áfach, gurb é an bua is tábhachtaí faoi streachailt saoil Inez ná gur eagraigh sí ón bhun aníos le cur chuige a chreid go daingean i gcumas agus dínit na cosmhuintire nuair a chothaítear rannpháirteachas agus úinéireacht iontu ar a gcinniúint féin.

 

Mar a dúirt Inez ag caint a thug sí san Uachtar Chluanaí in 2010, ‘the brutal struggle to name the issue is the first battle for change, but if the people who are affected aren’t involved in that struggle to name it, then you will win the day if you’re lucky, but power will regroup the following day.’

 

Léirigh sí nach n-oibródh feachtas ar son íobartaigh na héagothroime murach go bhfuil siad rannpháirteach sa phróiseas chun an tsaincheist a ainmniú agus an réiteach a aimsiú. Nuair a cheistigh Inez ‘cé nach raibh ag an tabla’, ní hé amháin go raibh sí ag iarraidh suíochán dóibh siúd ar an imeall ag an tábla, bhí sé de rún aicí an troscán féin a athrú agus an spotsholas a shíniú ar na struchtúir cumhachta a bhí san áit go dtiocfadh leo bheith lánroghnach faoi cé a fuair suíochán ag an tábla.

 

Ó síníodh Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta, thuig Inez nár leor polasaithe agus reachtaíocht mura gcuirtear iad i gcrích ar mhaithe le patrúin idirdhealaithe a athrú. Labhair sí go poiblí faoi na ‘ballaí úra eisimh’ a d’fhorbair sa phróiseas síochána a dhaingnigh éagothroime shocheacnamaíochta níos doimhne do na ceantair is boichte ó thuaidh, ‘political progress cannot be broken on the backs of the poor’ ar sise.

 

Thug sí dúshlán leanúnach don chlár oibre seicteach agus dioscúrsa scoilteach na dispeansáide úire a bhrúnn ‘dea-chaidrimh’ agus ‘todhchaí roinnte’ anuas orainn chun an eágothroime a cheilt agus í a mhaíomh, ‘good relations are not good relations if they’re built on silencing the poor’.

 

Ní amháin gur thug sí guth d’íobartaigh na ‘ballaí úra’ seo ach d’eagraigh sí feachtais in éineacht leo; Caitlicigh i dtuaisceart Bhéal Feirste ar an liosta feithimh tithíochta; othair sláinte meabhrach agus cúramóirí a bhí thíos le córas lochtach nár fhoghlaim ó na meancóga céanna; páistí in íochtar na Seanchille ar séanadh bunáiseanna orthu agus daoine dífhostaithe go fadtéarmach nach bhfuair deiseanna ar bith tríd athghiniúint uirbeach.

 

Bhunaigh sí an grúpa nuálaíoch PPR (Participation and Practice of Rights) le go dtiocfadh bláth ar an mhodheolaíocht streachailte a mhúnlaigh sí. Spreag seo glúin úr atá chomh tiomanta céanna do ghníomhaíocht cheartais shóisialta ón bhun aníos atá fréamhaithe i rannpháirteachas gníomhach iad siúd ar thaobh íochtair na ngaol cumhachta.

 

D’fhág Inez oidhreacht chumhachtach againn a thaispeáin gur gcaithfeár ‘daonlathas’ agus ‘dul chun cinn’ a mheas bunaithe ar an athrú a mhothaíonn pobail ar an imeall. Ní mór dúinn bheith thar a bheith buíoch di mar go bhfuil tuiscint níos saibhre againn dá bharr.

Cliceáil ar an nasc thíos leis an chlib a fheiceáil

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96utT_Lovvs

[tab: English]

 

Inez McCormack: a life of struggle on behalf of the marginalisedimccormack1

 

Le Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh

 

28-1-13

 

Disadvantaged communities and their advocates are undoubtedly much worse off following the tragic loss of Inez McCormack last week after a short illness. For it was those on the margins who benefitted from Inez’s life work, where her immense skills as an organiser, strategist, negotiator, visionary and leader where put at the service of ordinary people. Inez was a humble leader, though, who developed a modest approach, as ex-president of Ireland, Mary Robinson pointed out, that showed, ‘that you can achieve so much more if you don’t need the credit’.

 

It was in the midst of the turbulent struggle for civil rights in the late sixties that Inez learned that a sincere fight against injustice cannot be mounted unless you are willing to name the issue. She understood that change doesn’t drop from the sky and that you can’t wait for the right ‘circumstances’ to emerge because the right circumstances are never in place for those at the hard end.

 

Inez never backed down from the most difficult issues, regardless of whether it was hospital cleaners, Catholics without employment rights, Protestants without educational opportunities, Irish speakers from Glór na nGael or women suffering from domestic abuse, who were being victimised.

 

She was always willing to place her head above the parapet even when she suffered demonisation because of it. In the eighties, when she stood up for fair employment legislation on behalf of Catholics in the guise of the McBride principles, she was accused of supporting the war. She continued to raise her voice against poverty in the new dispensation, despite the prevailing view that this meant you were against the peace.

 

It could be said, however, that the greatest success of Inez’s life of struggle was that she organised from the bottom-up by believing resolutely in the dignity of marginalised people to take ownership of their own destiny when their participation is honestly sought.

 

As Inez said at a talk she gave in the Upper Springfield area in 2010, ‘the brutal struggle to name the issue is the first battle for change, but if the people who are affected aren’t involved in that struggle to name it, then you will win the day if you’re lucky, but power will regroup the following day.’

 

She showed us that campaigns on behalf of victims of inequality can’t work unless those victims participate fully in the process to name the issue and secure a solution. When Inez continually questioned ‘who wasn’t at the table’, she wasn’t merely seeking a seat at the table for the marginalised, but rather aiming to transform the furniture and shine the spotlight on the ability of power structures to be discretionary about who gets a seat at the table.

 

Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Inez understood that policies and legislation weren’t sufficient unless they were implemented in order to challenge patterns of discrimination. She spoke publicly about the ‘walls of exclusion’ that developed post-peace process that fortified deeper socio-economic inequality for the poorest areas in the North; ‘political progress cannot be broken on the backs of the poor’ she stated.

 

She consistently challenged the sectarian agenda and divisive discourse of the new dispensation with its relentless use of ‘good relations’ and a ‘shared future’ to obscure inequality; ‘‘good relations are not good relations if they’re built on silencing the poor’ said Inez.

 

Not only did she give voice to the hardship of victims of these ‘walls of exclusion’ but also organised campaigns by their side; Catholics in north Belfast on the housing waiting list, mental health patients and carers being failed by a system which refused to learn mistakes of the past, children in the Lower Shankill denied basic facilities and services, and the long term unemployed who are denied opportunities created through urban regeneration.

 

She formed the innovative PPR (Participation and Practice of Rights) organisation in order that her unique methodology of struggle could blossom. This inspired a new generation who are just as committed to bottom-up social justice activism that is rooted in the active participation of those on the downside of unequal power relations.

 

Inez has left a powerful legacy that proves how ‘democracy’ and ‘progress’ can only be measured by the change felt by communities on the margins. We should be eternally grateful to Inez for this and the richer understanding we now have as a result of her efforts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96utT_Lovvs

 

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Check Also

Close