Remembering Monica Barnes


Sir, – May I add to the many well-deserved tributes already paid to Monica Barnes?

Like deputies McDonald and Murphy (“Tributes paid to ‘fearless campaigner’ Monica Barnes in Dáil”, May 9th), I recall a politician of principle who challenged her more conservative party colleagues by publicly championing the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

I was involved with GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) from its establishment in 1988 until 1992. During that time Monica Barnes was chairwoman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Women’s Rights. We were lobbying politicians from all parties and found in Monica a stalwart champion.

When support for our campaign was limited to the parties of the left (Labour, Greens and Workers’ Party) Monica gave her support forthrightly and publicly by speaking at the launch of our “Campaign for Equality” in October 1991 in the European Commission Office. In doing so she shared a platform with Patricia O’Donovan, assistant general secretary ICTU; Sylvia Meehan, chief executive, Employment Equality Agency; and Roger Garland TD, Green Party.

This took great determination and strength of character – for many of her Fine Gael colleagues were neither supportive nor, I believe, happy with her stand.

As we approach the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation next month, I feel it is only fitting and proper to register admiration for a woman of principle and a parliamentarian of stature – ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílis! –Yours, etc,