Meeting calls for honest dialogue between feminists

 

WOMEN in the Republic must not allow the British government to control the peace agenda, Ms Oonagh Marron of Falls Women's Centre told a conference in west Belfast at the weekend.

She was speaking at a one day meeting organised by Clar na mBan, a group of nationalist women and feminists, to give women the opportunity to discuss recent political events. About loo women attended.

Ms Marron said she hoped there would be more honest discussion between Northern and Southern feminists although she acknowledged that "partition and 27 years of bloody history lie between us".

Many women in the North felt abandoned by their sisters across the Border, she said.

Ms Joanne Vance of Downtown Women's Centre said the ceasefire had brought space for Protestants to consider new ideas.

She had many friends in business who had moved to Dublin to take advantage of market opportunities.

The politics of fear should not be allowed to ride roughshod over the positive developments of the peace process, she said.

She urged the republican leadership not to confuse the views of the unionist leadership with those of ordinary Protestants.

They should not be "riled" by the words or actions of unionist leaders but should communicate directly with Protestant people.

Ms Vance said that republican and unionist women should remain focused during the peace process on the economic situation. It would be no good replacing one exploitative economic system with another, she said.

One woman, speaking from the floor, said that women should not suffer a lack of confidence about becoming involved in politics.

Male politicians in the North were renowned for their mediocrity, irrationality and poverty of thinking, she said.

Another speaker expressed concern that not enough young women were joining the movement.

Dr Margaret MacCurtain of UCD said that women had many attributes necessary for good leadership in politics and other areas of society.