Monday, September 18, 2023

Time to say Yes to Palestinian State: Raising Awareness about Sepsis: Sláinte

 Time to say Yes to Palestinian State

Last week the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin visited Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. It was an opportunity for the Irish government to take a firm stand against Israeli aggression and its apartheid system of governance. Instead Mr. Martin became little more than a commentator on the ongoing and worsening crisis in that region.

While Mr. Martin was occasionally critical in his public remarks of the expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian land and concerned at the daily attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian homes and families there was little of substance to his visit. With Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu making clear there would be no change in Israeli policy and his government’s veto over any possibility of viable negotiations toward a peace agreement, it needs more than meaningless rhetoric from An Tánaiste. It needs action from the Irish government to give peace a chance. months ago members of the ‘Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem’, visited Dublin. The Commission was established by the United Nations following the 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2021. Two hundred and fifty Palestinians and 13 Israeli’s were killed in that period. While praising the cross party approach in Leinster House the Commissioners said “at this stage of the situation on the ground, mere statements – no matter how progressive are not sufficient. We need more action.”

There was no action from Mr. Martin. Rather he chose to urge the Palestinian leaders “to take risks in terms of the pursuit of peace.”

In 2015 the Oireachtas supported a motion calling on the Irish government to recognise the State of Palestine. It refuses to do so claiming that such a move must be part of a new peace agreement. And yet Micheál Martin last week acknowledged that on the basis of his conversations with Israeli leaders: “I don’t see any immediate signs of a change in direction.” And why should they when the Irish government and others stand aside and facilitate Israeli aggression?

If the Irish government is serious about peace in the Middle East it should move immediately toward recognising the State of Palestine and using its membership of the European Union and the United Nations and its international influence to persuade others to do likewise. It’s time for action.


Raising Awareness about Sepsis

The month of September has been designated as Sepsis Awareness Month. Sepsis is not a condition that often attracts attention but across the island of Ireland annually there are an estimated twenty two thousand cases of sepsis. Of these, approximately three and half thousand victims die. In the South sepsis kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and AIDS combined. Sepsis also is the number one killer in deaths in hospitals in the USA. Every year 350,000 people die from it.

While thousands of miles apart two Irish families, one in Ireland and the other in the USA, who have been tragically touched by sepsis, have initiated campaigns to draw attention to this silent killer.

In New York in 2012 Rory Staunton, the 12 year old son of Ciaran and Orlaith, died four days after taking ill. I knew Rory. He was an articulate, enthusiastic, intelligent and very astute young person. He fell ill after playing basketball in school where he slightly cut his arm in a fall. Overnight he became feverish, vomited and developed a pain in his leg. He was taken to hospital where essential warning signs were missed. He eventually ended up in intensive care but four days after the accident he died of septic shock.

Ciaran and Orlaith established the ‘End Sepsis, the legacy of Rory Staunton’ Foundation and have fought tirelessly since then to introduce ‘Rory’s Regulations’ – new rules and protocols - to ensure that medical staff are trained to recognise the symptoms of sepsis. It is estimated that 20,000 lives in New York State alone have been saved by their efforts.

Last week the case of 15 year old Seán Hughes from Dublin was highlighted. He died from sepsis in 2018. His father Joe described his son as a “healthy young man” who was a “singer, entertainer, comedian and best friend to all who had the pleasure of knowing him.” Seán was a well known and popular rapper who had performed under the stage name Lil Red in the Aviva Stadium and the National Concert Hall.

In January 2018 he came home from school with what appeared to be flu-like symptoms similar to a chest infection. He was eventually taken to hospital where doctors “were baffled as they had absolutely no clue what was wrong.” Sean died after four days. The family only discovered at the inquest that the cause of death was sepsis, a disease they had never heard of before.

Like Ciaran and Orlaith in New York Seán’s parents, Joe and Karen, decided to raise public awareness about sepsis. They have established ‘Lil Red’s Legacy Sepsis Awareness Campaign.’ This includes Sean’s parents going to schools, colleges and sports clubs to make their presentation.

Well done to these two families who have courageously who despite their heartache are actively involved in trying to help others.

Awareness is hugely important but so too is training and resources for family doctors and hospitals. If you have concerns information on sepsis is available at   and



A friend of mine has told me that  he is thinking of giving up the drink. He has been saying the same thing for the last ten years so you will understand if I dont take him too seriously. In the past his desire to be abstemious coincided with his hangovers. When the hangover retreated so  did his desire to be teetotal. But this time he seems to be more serious.


Its my age he told me Im not fit to drink the way I used to. A couple of pints and Im stupored. And then I have to run to the toilet for the rest of the night, especially in the middle of the night. My bladder does be like a hard hat.

He looked at me across the table. We were in a pub. He was drinking alcohol free beer. 

Alcohol free beer misses the whole point I observed. And it probably has the same porous effect on your bladder.

Probably so” he replied. “But the taste is the same and you dont feel like a tube drinking water or a soft drink in company. There is also a limit on how much water you can drink. 

He gazed forlornly at my pint. 

We Irish drink too much anyway, he continued. 

No more than any other societyI suggested.

Maybe so he conceded but we drink differently. We drink to get drunk. Others drink with their food or in a measured way. A few glasses. Not us. We go out for a session. To get plastered. I cant hack getting stocious  any more.

Fair enough I agreed with him. So drink less. You dont need to get  legless.

I rarely get legless he responded.

Im well able to hold my drink. You know that. But having just one or two drinks on a night out?  Thats easier said than done. He said sadly.

First you get the bottle. Then the bottle gets you.” 

 So how long are you off the drink I asked. 

 Since last night.

 I wish you well I replied, resisting the temptation to ridicule him. 

 I will let you know how I get on,  he smiled determinedly. 

 Are you off buying drink as well I queried. Mines a pint and its your round.

 Maith go leor he said. 

 By the way a wee bit of advice for you I continued.  

Dont broadcast it that you are off the drink. Too many of our friends take pleasure when people go on  the wagon and then fall off it again. Just say you’re not drinking that night. You’re driving. Or you’re minding the grand kids. Or you have something to do early in the morning.

Good advice he said. Dont you tell anyone.

 OkI replied. “My lips are sealed.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Unique Robert Ballagh Moore Street Print; You Are Never Alone With A Book: Walking with my Mother


Unique Robert Ballagh Moore Street Print

As regular readers of this column know I have been involved for a very long time in the campaign to protect and develop as a historic and cultural quarter the Moore St. Terrace and its environs in Dublin. The entire terrace 10-25 Moore Street was occupied by the evacuated GPO garrison at the end of Easter Week 1916. The developer - Hammerson - wants to demolish much of the terrace.

The Moore St. Preservation Trust, with the support of relatives of the 1916 leaders, is working with a legal team to prepare a legal challenge should An Bord Pleanála decide to grant Hammerson permission to knock down any part of this historic terrace. All of this will involve significant costs. As part of the Trust’s campaign to raise awareness, and to raise funding for any legal challenge, the Moore Street Preservation Trust will tonight be launching a new image of the last meeting of the Provisional Government following the Easter Rising in 1916 by the renowned Irish artist Robert Ballagh. The launch and presentation of the print will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin at 7pm.

This exclusive limited edition of 200 prints (60 by 60 cm) is individually signed and numbered by Robert Ballagh on museum quality paper and printed with archival inks.

The scene depicted in his painting captures the last meeting of the Provisional Government that took place in Number 16 Moore Street following their retreat from the burning GPO. It was there at this meeting attended by Pádraig Pearse, Seán Mac Diarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Tom Clarke and a wounded James Connolly that the decision was taken to surrender to the British forces. Also present at the meeting were Volunteers Winifred Carney, Julia Grennan and Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell who a short time later accompanied Pearse when he presented the notice of surrender to the British.  The women of 1916 are rarely given their proper place in that story. Robert Ballagh’s print redresses this through the inclusion of these three republican activists who played a central role in those historic events.

This striking new print entitled simply ‘HQ Moore Street 1916’ is being released for sale at Euro 150 or £150 per print. Each signed print is sure to become a valuable collector’s piece. The print will be available this evening following the launch at the Mansion House. It can be purchased through

I have my copy ordered. I am confident that these unique prints by Bobby will go quickly.


You Are Never Alone With A Book. 

 I’m glad to say I finished reading a few books over the last month so I will update you on them over the next couple of weeks.

First off  is The Ghost Limb by Claire Mitchell. This is an intriguing read and Ms Mitchell is a persuasive writer, gentle, witty and positive. She describes herself as an alternative Protestant and Ghost Limb has a sub-title ‘Alternative Protestants and the Spirit of 1798’. In this compelling book a  group of these citizens retrace the steps of the United Irishmen - and women- who worked for the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter over two hundred years ago as a means to end the connection with England.

They trek across graveyards and old churches, pubs and battlefield sites in County Antrim and Down and in Belfast's back entries. They rediscover this part of their heritage and explore why it has been misremembered or not remembered except by a faithful few who reject the notion of  Northern Protestants as a monolithic right wing insular and anti progressive, anti Irish group. Northern Protestants  are not all like that they say. Not historically. Not now.

Ms Mitchell also presents the vision of 1798 - of a  rights based anti-sectarian equality proofed society- as the democratic solution to our political problems. I recommend this book to anyone trying to understand the dynamics of northern society in this time of change. There is a lot of learning to be done by us all. Making space  to rediscover who we are is part of that. Claire Mitchell’s  book has made a mighty and positive contribution to that necessary task. 

The Ghost Limb is published by

Michael Magee was one of the guests at Scribes at The Rock during Féile An Phobail. He read from his new novel Close To Home. Scribes is a Féile highlight, a creation of Danny Morrison and now twenty-two-years old. Scribes not Danny. Michael Magee was joined by Michelle Gallen reading Factory Girls and Paul Murray reading The Bee Sting.  More of these at another time. All in all another great event. Well done, Danny. Belated apologies to the woman who appeared to be annoyed at me bunking the queue to have my books signed. Mea culpa. 

And well done Michael Magee and the other Scribes’ readers.  Close to Home is an in-your-face, fast-paced graphic account of a twenty-year-old Sean and his mates and family living in West Belfast and mired in poverty, addiction and trauma. Sean has just returned from university in England but he is soon sucked back into the life he had temporarily escaped from. His story is told by Michael Magee with brutal honesty. Sean knows that a better life is possible but surviving the daily challenges of existing on the edge of a community  coming out of conflict with multiple social and economic  challenges threatens to drown him in excesses of drug and alcohol binges and casual random violence.  So he struggles to survive and to readjust. 

I read Close To Home in two goes. I am undecided yet about  whether Michael lets the reader fully into Sean’s emotional responses to the definitive stages of his transition. That element of the novel has stayed with me.  I consider  it a good thing that I am unsure of this. I read Close To Home two weeks ago and I am still puzzling over this part of it.

Undoubtedly, Close To Home does convey the young man’s emotional sense of his community, of family, particularly  his relationship with his mother and his estranged father and the multi-traumas endured by friends, workmates and his brother Anto. His depiction of the people of West Belfast, or that part of us which is portrayed in his novel,  also rings true. Including his mother’s attitude to the IRA. So a very fine novel indeed and one which will stay with you long after you read it. 

Close To Home is Michael Magee’s debut novel and is published by Picador.


Walking with my Mother

Our mother Annie Hannaway – Annie Adams died on the 4th September 1992. Her spirit lives on in the memory of our family and those who knew her. Here’s a little poem I wrote a few years ago. 


Walking with my Mother

My mother died in 1992.

In 2007 I met her.

On the back road above Cashelnagore.

The August sunshine lit up

The scarlet fushia and the montbretia

And the white of her hair.

As I walked behind her

She picked wildflowers

From the ditches.

Then at a gap in the hedge

She turned and smiled at me.

‘Lá deas ata ann’ she said.

‘It’s a nice day’.

I walked on.


Wondering how this could be.

Monday, September 4, 2023

The Road to Cork: The Power of X: Seamus Heaney: Bernadette O'Hagan


The Road To Cork. 

In 1986 I gave a talk at a Sinn Féin conference which became known by activists of my vintage as The Road to Cork or The Bus to Cork. More of that at another time. Suffice for now to say that I made  the journey to Cork  a metaphor for the journey to the new republic. I am minded of that now as our car speeds south and I sit in the back penning these words. The road to Cork is indeed a very long road. So too the road to the new republic. But barring accidents we will get there. 

I like Cork. It is a good walking city. Full of lovely  hurlers and handsome  heroes and heroines, melodic singers and wonderful writers. I love the sing song Cork accent. It is also the homeplace of Terence MacSwiney. RG and I are going to Cork to attend the National Hunger Strike Commemoration on Sunday. It’s the first time that this annual event will be held in Cork in honour of  the ten 1981 hunger strikers and Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who both died in English prisons and those Cork republicans - Terence MacSwiney, Michael Fitzgerald, Joseph Murphy, Denis Barry and Andy O’Sullivan - who also died on hunger strike during the Tan War and the Civil War, and others who died on hunger strike in the intervening years.

We got into Cork late on Saturday afternoon for a session with Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire and mé féin about the hungerstrikes and books and writing  and struggle and life.Go raibh maith agat Donnchadh. On  Sunday morning Chris and I visited the Blarney Stone. Chris came away talking like RG. Then off to meet families of the hungerstrikers before making our way to join the walk from Kennedy Quay to Grand Parade and the National Monument.

Thousands of us marched together and the mizzley rain gave way to bright warm sunshine as we made our way through Cork city centre for an inspiring session of speeches, poetry and songs.The main speaker Michelle O Neill told us; “We will achieve the sovereignty and independence of our people….those twenty two who  died on hungerstrike have left us a huge legacy …. the Good Friday Agreement provides the means by which we can achieve unity. We need to  prepare and plan and be ready for that….”

 Bobby Sands and his comrades would agree. 

Cork did the hungerstrikers proud. Well done to all involved. Míle buiochas. 


 The Power Of X.

Before X there was Twitter. Apart from the ill mannered, ill informed and abusive, nasty and vulgar tirades that are the mark of some contributors I like these forms of communication. 

I joined Twitter in January 2011 on the direction of Shaun Tracy who was then one of our leading shadowy figures in Leinster House. He continues to lead but in other shadowy sites of struggle. It is Shaun who is to blame for my twitterings over the years. He made the mistake of letting me put up whatever came into my head. Once  I even published My Little Book Of Tweets. In part of course I was having the craic. But I was also countering the demonizing propaganda of the establishment media, particularly the Dublin media. But that’s another story.

I recall one time getting a real sense of how useful and educational and democratic Twitter could be. Someone had put up a query about Luke Kelly’s rendition of Patrick Kavanagh’s beautiful verse Raglan Road. I posted a video of Luke singing what is undoubtedly the finest love song out. Best sung by him. Or me. Within minutes someone else posted old black and white footage of Patrick Kavanagh himself singing Raglan Road. The ability to bring these two wonderfully creative people and the story of Kavanagh’s poem to a new audience was for me a brilliant demonstration of the power of Twitter.

Ditto, as Ted would say, with X. Last week I watched as BelfastStreetNames asked how McDonnell Street got its name. McDonnell Street is in Belfast’s Falls area.  Within minutes told us that the street was named after a Francis McDonnell – a pawnbroker - who applied to The Town Improvement Committee to name the street after himself. John supplied a cutting from the Northern Whig of 2 November 1866 to amplify his answer. He then went on to tell us - complete with another appropriate Northern Whig cutting - how a large number of weapons believed to belong to the Fenians was seized in one of McDonnell’s properties in Rosemary Street. According to the Northern Whig some of the weapons were new.   Mr. McDonnell obviously escaped punishment and went on to develop McDonnell Street. Presumably he proved that some needy Fenian pawned the weapons. Fascinating.

I remember Paddy Lavery’s Pawn Shop on the Falls Road. My mother sent me and our Margaret there regularly. Pawning stuff on a Monday to be redeemed on a Friday. But not a weapon among them.

Seamus Heaney.

August 30 marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Seamus Heaney. I knew of Seamus before I knew him. He was a teacher in Saint Thomas’ School on the Whiterock Road along with another fine scribe Michael McLaverty. Some of my brothers were pupils there. I know Seamus’s poetry since Death of A Naturalist. His poems, and Patrick Kavanagh’s verses, have always moved me. My thoughts are with Seamus’s wife and family and with his friends at this anniversary time. 

BBC Radio 4 have a series on Seamus at 4.30 on Sundays - Four Sides of Seamus Heaney. John Kelly’s Poet of Place is special. So is Catherine Heaney on her father’s poetry of love. RTE Radio’s John Bowman has also done a special slot on his Sunday morning archival programme for the last few weeks featuring interviews and readings by Seamus. All worth listening to. 


A life of change

Bernadette O’Hagan from Lurgan died last week. She was a strong republican woman. An activist. She was 95. For 52 years she was married to Joe B who was himself a  hugely respected activist. Joe B is especially remembered for his part in the helicopter escape from Mountjoy prison in October 1973. 

Bernadette was born in Lurgan just over six years after partition and the establishment of the Orange State. She was the youngest of 9 children. From an early age Bernadette always had a grá mór for all things Irish – Music, dance, An Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, and the Irish language. Little wonder that this wee gael, this young active Irish girl stuck in Lurgan in the apartheid core of the Orange State became an Irish republican.

In 1945 she met Joe B O’Hagan shortly after his release from internment. They were married in 1949. Joe B was an activist in every decade from the 1940s until his death in 2001. The family also have deep connections with Monaghan. In the late 1960s  Bernadette was a founding member of the civil rights campaign in Lurgan. Later in 1974 she was imprisoned in Armagh Gaol.

She was a strong advocate for the political prisoners, especially during the H Block/Armagh campaigns. Bernadette was active in the Relatives Action Committee. Two of her sons were on the blanket. 

In May 1997 she was the Sinn Féin Upper Bann candidate in the Westminster election. The Sinn Féin vote increased across the North. In Upper Bann Bernadette almost doubled our vote. Joe B and Bernadette supported the peace process.

After Joe B’s death Bernadette continued her work particularly with Naíscoil Cois Locha. Hundreds of pupils have benefited from her vision and commitment and the efforts of other gaeilgeoirí in Lurgan, most especially around Bunscoil Naomh Proinsias. 

Today Sinn Féin is the largest party in the Assembly and on this island. It’s a far cry from the days of Bernadette’s youth. We also have now a means to end the union with England. This is in no small measure won to the activism of comrades like Bernadette.

Bernadette was a woman of huge integrity, very genuine and sincere. Today we need more activism, more activists, not least so that we can secure and win the referendum on unity which is part of the Good Friday Agreement. That is Bernadette’s generation’s gift to us. Let’s not waste it. Bernadette led by example. Let’s follow her example.  




Sunday, August 20, 2023

John Joe McGirl – an unbreakable Fenian: A master class on campaigning

                   Speaking in Ballinamore to a packed hall on the legacy of John Joe McGirl

John Joe McGirl – an unbreakable Fenian

In the course of almost 60 years of activism I have been very lucky to meet many wonderful, committed, compassionate republicans. On Saturday, in Ballinamore in County Leitrim, Republicans from Leitrim and beyond will gather to celebrate the life of one of these – John Joe McGirl. The annual John Joe McGirl commemoration is one of the highlights of the Ballinamore Festival Week and the participants will walk from John McGahern Square to the monument to John Joe opposite Amharclann an Oileáin (the Island Theatre). The monument was designed by Robert Ballagh.

For many of my generation John Joe was an inspiration – a legend. I first met him in the late 1960s. I was in my late teens. I had travelled by bus from Belfast to Enniskillen one Friday evening and then hitch-hiked to Ballinamore. I slept in a field in my trusty sleeping bag and I landed in Ballinamore on a Saturday morning.

John Joe brought me to Sliabh an Iarainn, to Lough Allen and to Drumshambo. The coal miners in Arigna were on strike and we attended one of their meetings. John Joe was deeply committed to transforming the lives of ordinary citizens burdened by poverty and deprivation; and his concern for rural Ireland, and for the tens of thousands forced to emigrate, helped to shape my own politics.

He connected the national and the local – a lesson I have never forgotten. Before anyone else he understood the importance of the restoration of our inland waterways. He was a champion of education and a great suppkrter of libraries. He was also a strong gaeilgeoir. And like me a faithful and hopeful supporter of our respective country teams.

I also met Bridie, John Joe’s wife. They had married in 1951 and had five children Liam, Áine, Cait, Feargal and Nuala. Given the frequency of John Joe’s periods in prison Bridie did a great job of rearing the children.

As well as being Vice President of Sinn Féin, a former POW and a TD and a republican activist for decades, John Joe also had a long connection with Belfast. He had the distinction of being in two different prisons when both were set on fire by Republican POWs. The first time was in the notorious Curragh in December 1940 where he was savagely beaten. The second time was Long Kesh in 1974. John Joe had travelled to Belfast at Easter 1974 to give the Easter Commemoration speech. The Brits thought he was Seamus Twomey and he was arrested. When they discovered their mistake John Joe was sent to the internee end of the Long Kesh camp.

When he arrived all us internees thought – poor oul John Joe – we all felt so sorry for him. But there was no sadness or despair in John Joe. He had been down this road so many times before. Later in October that year the republican POWs burned Long Kesh to the ground. There was a fierce series of running battles through the night and the following morning in different parts of the camp between the Republican POWs and the British Army. In the midst of this John Joe was hit in the face by a rubber bullet. If my recollection is right his jaw was fractured. As flames licked around the watch-towers I made my way to John Joe and asked how he was. His response – “I’m alright as long as you people are alright”.

Speaking later about his time in Long Kesh John Joe said:“I spent nine months there…I saw young men fight hand to hand with British soldiers. I know what it means to be kicked, beaten, gassed, made to sleep in a blanket under a sheet of iron in the month of October. I was glad to join this new generation in writing their chapter in the fight for independence. I am proud to say of them – that no generation has produced braver or better”.

John Joe’s entire adult life was a reflection of the years of republican struggle through the 1930s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Five decades of selfless commitment to the struggle for Irish freedom and independence. He was the ‘unbreakable Fenian’, the ‘gentle soldier’.

During the 1981 hunger strike John Joe travelled the length and breadth of the state rallying support for the hunger strikers. In the June 1981 general election Ciaran Doherty and Paddy Agnew were elected as TDs. Joe McDonnell came close to taking a seat in Sligo Leitrim. Despite the risk of arrest John Joe attended his funeral in Belfast. He gave the oration at Joe’s graveside in Milltown. He said: “Joe McDonnell died rather than debase the cause he served, rather than live with the forced tag of criminality on him… We will build Joe McDonnell a memorial… that will be the freedom and the unity of the Irish people.”

In 1986 John Joe seconded the motion calling for an end to the abstentionist policy towards Leinster House. As a former abstentionist TD it was a big decision for him to take. It was for him a necessary step if, in his words, “we are not going to hand down this struggle to another generation”.

Martin McGuinness like me loved John Joe. In a tribute to him Martin described John Joe as a “progressive thinker, always prepared to consider, support and propose new ways for the Republican Movement to advance. He wasn’t prepared to stand still or hold to old outdated tactics which were incapable of developing the struggle on all fronts… He was an extraordinary man, an inspiration to everyone who knew him. We treasure his memory”.


                Ailbe Smyth with Colin Harvey

A master class on campaigning

Féile an Phobail was a resounding success and in particular it provided a wonderful range of debates and conversations on the many issues surrounding constitutional change. Well done to Harry and Kevin, Sam and all the Féile team. Maith sibh. The quality of the debates was excellent. All were packed out. The breadth of speakers – academics, journalists, political and community activists, sports people, - and the many shades of opinion, including a greater number than before of people from the broadly cultural Unionist/Protestant tradition, was uplifting.

Among these was a hugely informative conversation between human rights lawyer Colin Harvey and Ailbhe Smyth, a well known and highly respected campaigner on many social justice campaigns. Ailbhe was a key player in the successful Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment and was co-director of Together for Yes in 2018. She told of one of her first decisions to take a stand in 1973. At that time she was a young academic in University College Dublin. When she got married in early 1973 UCD told her to leave. At that time there was a bar on married women joining the civil service and if a woman married she had to resign. Ailbhe refused to leave. In June of that year new legislation was introduced to lift the bar. Ailbhe stood her ground and won.

Colin and Ailbhe’s discussion centred on the role of Citizens’ Assemblies in creating change and the risks and opportunities such Assemblies can present. Colin reminded us that there is a “huge political transformation taking place across this island. And people across all sections of society are increasingly getting involved in the conversation on our constitutional future.”

It was a master class from Ailbhe on how to run a campaign. The importance of being inclusive, of strategising, the need to build alliances, the use of language in messaging, the framing of the campaign and the managing and nuts and bolts of creating a cohesive multi-layered organisation.