Posts Tagged ‘Womens Rights’

On August 7th 1912 four women- Gladys Evans, Mary Leigh, Jennie Baines (under the nom de guerre Lizzie Baker) and Mabel Capper were sentenced at the Green Street Special Criminal Court in Dublin accused of “having committed serious outrages at the time of the visit of the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.” The trial lasted several days during which police came under fire for initially refusing to allow admittance to women. Given the nature of the case, this act was met with steady and mounting pressure until the ban was repealed.

The “acts of serious outrage” have been mentioned in passing here before in an article on the Theatre Royal. The visit of Asquith to Dublin in July 1912 was met with defiance from militant suffragettes, some of whom (including the four above) had followed him over from England. On July 19th, a hatchet (around which a text reading “This symbol of the extinction of the Liberal Party for evermore” was wrapped) was thrown at his moving carriage as it passed over O’Connell Bridge. The hatchet missed Asquith but struck John Redmond, who was travelling in the same carriage, on the arm. There was also a failed attempt at setting fire to the Theatre Royal as he was due to talk on Home Rule in the same venue the following day. A burning chair was thrown from a balcony into the orchestra pit and flammable liquid was spread around the cinematograph (projector) box, and an attempt made to set it alight. It caught fire, and exploded once, but was quickly extinguished. The Irish Times, as below, reported the attempt which, in any case was foiled by Sergeant Durban Cooper of the Connaught Rangers who was in attendance:

At this moment Sergeant Cooper saw a young woman standing near. She was lighting matches. Opening the door of the cinematograph box, she threw in a lighted match, and then tried to escape. But she was caught by Sergeant Cooper and held by him. She is stated to have then said: “There will be a few more explosions in the second house. This is only the start of it.” (Irish Times, July 19th 1912)

Taken from "Votes for Women," August 9th, 1912

Taken from “Votes for Women,” August 9th, 1912

The four women mentioned above were accused and charged over both actions. The then Attorney General for Ireland, C.A O’Connor conducted the prosecution, and the case was presided over by Judge Madden. It seems that the authorities were at great pains to quell the burgeoning suffragette movement, and so set out to brand the women as highly dangerous provocateurs. O’Connor spoke of the horrors the fire in the Theatre could have caused, and Judge Madden, upon passing sentence on the women, rendered it his “imperative duty to pronounce a sentence that is calculated to have a deterrent effect.” Large crowds had gathered inside and outside the court for their sentencing upon which, as seen in the Evening Post clipping below, applause rang out around a largely hostile room.


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The Irish Women Workers Union. Liberty Hall.

Over the last couple of years, it’s been fantastic to see International Womens Day marked properly in Dublin. While it seems there is a wide range of events planned this year to mark the occasion, ranging from a showing of the fantastic I Was A Teenage Feminist as part of the (very much free) Progressive Film Club to the ever-popular and highly regarded Feminist Walking Tour hosted by Choice Ireland, the RAG collective and the Lashback collective (and more on that below), the event that’s grabbed my attention is undoubtedly the ‘Take Back The Night’ march planned for Tuesday night.

Event Poster

The march/vigil will meet at 7pm on Tuesday at the front square of the University.

Take Back the Night (also known as Reclaim the Night) is an internationally-held march and vigil that is organised with the purpose of unifying women, men, and children in awareness of sexual violence and rape. TBTN is about taking a stand against violence and making the night safe for everyone.

The event at Trinity is one part of many events being organised in honour of International Women’s Day. It will include speakers from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, One in Four, an Irish based support service for women and men who have experienced sexual abuse/violence, and Amnesty International, an international human rights organisation.

As a protest and indeed direct action against sexual assault and rape, Take Back The Night marches have occured all over the world in cities, towns and Universities.

As for the Choice Ireland/RAG/Lashback walking tour, I have to confess to not getting along to either of the previous Feminist Walking Tours of Dublin, despite hearing nothing but praise for both tours. Dublin has a tremendous social history with so many female figures neglected from popular history, but none the less inspiring. From the women who led the anti-apartheid actions at Dunnes Stores to the women of the Labour and Republican movements, there is a hidden history just below the surface. Hopefully the walking tour will help fill in some of the blanks for those who attend!

I should stress these are but two events occuring to mark the day and the week around it. Be sure to look around for more events, for example by checking the event guide on Indymedia.

Choice Ireland/Rag/Lashback Feminist Walking Tour
This Sunday, 1 pm.
Meet at the Central Bank , Dame Street.

Take Back The Night Vigil
Next Tuesday, 7PM
Front Square of TCD

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