Passion on both sides

Wed, Oct 17, 2012, 01:00

“Women, in whatever country ye breathe – wherever ye breathe, degraded, awake! Awake to the contemplation of the happiness that awaits you when all your faculties of mind and body shall be fully cultivated and developed; when every path in which ye can exercise those improved faculties shall be laid open and rendered delightful to you, even as to them who now ignorantly enslave and degrade you.”

 - William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler, Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery, 1825

“The sex of a woman, though it may be a misfortune, is not a crime.”

 - Edward Gibson, Dublin, 1863

“Allowing woman the right of suffrage is incompatible with the Catholic ideal of the unity of domestic life and would fare ill with the passive virtues of humility, patience, meekness, forbearance and self-repression looked upon by the church as the special prerogative of the female soul.”

 - Fr D Barry, Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 1909

“The [women’s] movement in Ireland smacks rather of imitation of the English, and we do not regard it as a native and spontaneous growth.”

 - Editorial in the Leader, 1910

“For Men and Women Equally the Rights of Citizenship; From Men and Women Equally the Duties of Citizenship.”

 - Masthead of the Irish Citizen, 1912-1920

“Women’s suffrage will I believe, be the ruin of our western civilisation. It will destroy the home, challenging the headship of man, laid down by God. It may come in your time – I hope not in mine.”

 - John Dillon, MP, circa 1912

“It would be ludicrous, were it not shameful, to find nationalists, whose history is a record of success gained by the use of violence and lawbreaking and damage to property, condemning the smashing of a few panes of glass as if it were an unheard of and unpardonable outrage, or to find unionists, while vehemently applauding the resolve of Ulster to resist Home Rule by illegal methods and encouraging them to drill for the purpose of armed resistance, at the same time condemning last Thursday’s window smashing in the name of the Irish reputation for sanity and sobriety in the conduct of their social and political affairs.”

 - The Irish Citizen, June 1912

“Down with the suffragettes”; “We will never forget the hatchet”; “Burn them”; “Throw them in the river.”

 - Calls from a crowd at a suffrage meeting in Beresford Place, after a hatchet was thrown into Prime Minister Asquith’s carriage by a protester, July 1912

“Personally I am dead against forcible feeding, which always ends with the release of the prisoner long before her time. I want to keep these ladies under lock and key for five years and I am quite happy to feed them with priests’ champagne and Michaelmas geese all the time, if it can be done . . . but these wretched hags . . . are obdurate to the point of death.”

 - Chief Secretary Augustine Birrell to John Dillon, August 1912

“They are not men, they are not women. Woman: the idea comprises dignity, self-respect, refinement, reserve. I don’t find any of these qualities amongst the suffragettes.”

 - Monsignor Keller, Youghal, Co Cork, 1912

“Women speakers who could hold their own, who could lift their voices in the Fifteen Acres [in Phoenix Park] , meeting heckling on their own ground, being good-humoured and capable of keeping their temper under bombardments of rotten eggs, over-ripe tomatoes, bags of flour, stinking chemicals, gradually earned respect and due attention: suffs were good sports.”

 - Hanna Sheehy Skeffington quoted in Reminiscences of an Irish Suffragette, 1975

“Damn your war! Votes for women now!

 - Francis Sheehy Skeffington, 1914

“I suppose when the necessity of knitting socks is over – the order will be – bear sons. And those of us who can’t will feel we had better get out of the way as quickly as we can.”

 - Pacifist Louie Bennett to Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, October 1914

“The worker is the slave of capitalist society, the female worker is the slave of that slave. In Ireland the woman’s cause is felt by Labour men and women as their cause; the Labour cause has no more earnest and whole-hearted supporters than the militant women.”

 - James Connolly, The Reconquest of Ireland, 1915

“We were as keen as men on the freedom of Ireland, but we saw the men clamouring for amendments which suited their own interests, and made no recognition of the existence of women as fellow citizens.”

 - Margaret Cousins, We Two Together (with JH Cousins), 1950

“Under the new dispensation the majority sex in Ireland has secured one representative. This is the measure of our boasted sex equality. The lesson the election teaches is that reaction has not died out with the Irish Party – and the IWFL, which has been so faithful to feminist ideals, must continue to fight and to expose reaction in the future as in the past.”

 - IWFL report, 1918, reflecting on the 1918 election, which produced only one woman victor, Constance Marcievicz