Civic, Social and Political Education

Human Rights

Human Rights are the basic needs thats is fair for a person to have or to be able to do. Many people have devoted their whole lives to fighting for the rights of their fellow man. Below shows a list of just some of them, click to find out more about each of them.

Human Rights Activists



Human Rights Organisations





Rosa Parks, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement

"To this day I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom."
--Mrs. Rosa Parks--

Rosa was a human rights activist who took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in order to gain equal rights for black people in America.

The National Anti Racism Awareness Programme is available in a new window by clicking their logo here.

















Willie Bermingham, Founder of ALONE

Willie Bermingham worked as fireman in Dublin. In the course of his work Willie frequently came across abandoned and neglected old people living in squalid conditions. After seeing the plight of the elderly he set up ALONE in 1977.

ALONE stands for A Little Offering Never Ends

The ALONE web sitecan be accessed by clicking on their logo here. The site will load in a new window.





















Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was a woman with great sensitivity to the underprivileged of all creeds, races, and nations. Her constant work to improve their lot made her one of the most loved--and for some years one of the most reviled--women of her generation. She married Franklin Roosevelt, the president of the USA. She gained a knowledge of Washington and its ways while Franklin served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When Mrs. Roosevelt came to the White House in 1933, she understood social conditions better than any of her predecessors and she transformed the role of First Lady accordingly. After the President's death in 1945 she returned to a cottage at his Hyde Park estate; she told reporters: "the story is over." After the death of her husband, she began her service as American spokesman in the United Nations. She continued a vigorous career until her strength began to wane in 1962. She died in New York City that November, and was buried at Hyde Park beside her husband.

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Sean McBride (1904 - 1988) , Founder of Amnesty International

Sean MacBride had undoubtedly the most extraordinary and varied life of any Irish figure of the 20th Century. He was by turn a revolutionary, a terrorist, a journalist, a barrister, a statesman, a diplomat, a human rights activist and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Yet today he is perhaps best known as being one of the cofounders of Amnesty International. Sean MacBride was born in Paris on January 26th 1904, the son of Maude Gonne and Major John MacBride from Westport County Mayo. He was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 with former Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato. In 1977 he received the Lenin International Peace Prize. He is the only person to have won both the Nobel and Lenin Peace Prizes.

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Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel prize winner for 1991

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of the martyred General Aung San, who led his Burma’s fight for independence from Britain in the 1940s and was killed for his beliefs in 1947. Her nonviolent struggle for democracy in her country now called Myanmar against one of the most insensitive and brutal military dictatorships in the world led to her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

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Lech Walesa, Nobel prize winner for 1983

Lech Walesa was born on September 29, 1943 in Popowo, Poland. After graduating from vocational school, he worked as a car mechanic for four years. He served in the army for two years, rose to the rank of corporal, and in 1967 was employed in the Gdansk shipyards as an electrician. During the clash in December 1970 between the workers and the government, he was one of the leaders of the shipyard workers and was briefly detained. In 1976, however, as a result of his activities as a shop steward, he was fired and had to earn his living by taking temporary jobs. In August 1980 he led the Gdansk shipyard strike fighting for workers' rights. The authorities were forced to give in and to negotiate with Walesa with the Gdansk Agreement of August 31, 1980. General Jaruzelski, fearing Soviet armed intervention mainly imposed martial law in 1981, "suspended" Solidarity, arrested many of its leaders, and interned Walesa until November 1982 in a country house in a remote spot. In October 1983 the announcement of Walesa's Nobel prize raised the spirits of the underground movement. The Jaruzelski regime became even more unpopular as economic conditions worsened, and it was finally forced to negotiate with Walesa and his Solidarity colleagues. The result was the holding of parliamentary elections which, although limited, led to the establishment of a non-communist government. Under Mikhail Gorbachev the Soviet Union did not pose the same threat. In December 1990 in a general ballot he was elected President of the Republic of Poland. He served until defeated in the election of November 1995.

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Jean Vanie, the L'Arche community

In 1964, Jean Vanier came [to] the end of a long personal search, after a career in the navy, a doctorate in philosophy, and a college teaching career. He invited two men with mental handicaps, Raphael and Phillippe, to set up a home with him in Trosly-Breuil, a small village in France. He called the home L'Arche (the Ark, a symbol of life, hope, and covenant with God and Man). In setting up this home, Jean chose to look at handicapped people in a radical way, one inspired by the life of Jesus and the Beatitudes. In a society that values production and competition, those with a mental handicap teach us the value of sharing, acceptance, and joy. The foundation stone of L'Arche is the idea of "living with" and not just "doing for" those with mental handicaps. In the years since the beginning, The Federation of L'Arche has grown to over 100 communities in 18 countries; in Europe, North America, South and Central America, the Carribean, Africa, Asia and Australia." -- Homefires, a L'Arche Community

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Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Jr.was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College from which both his father and grandfather had been graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951 and a doctorate in 1953 from Boston university. He was heavily involved in the bus dispute with Rosa Parks in which he suffered many attacks.In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. He led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, "l Have a Dream", he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure. At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would donate the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

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Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 27, 1910. At the age of eighteen she joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months' training in Dublin she was sent to India, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she decided to devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.

On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity", whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after. In 1965 the Society became an International Religious Family by a decree of Pope Paul VI.

Today the order comprises Active and Contemplative branches of Sisters and Brothers in many countries. In 1963 both the Contemplative branch of the Sisters and the Active branch of the Brothers was founded. In 1979 the Contemplative branch of the Brothers was added, and in 1984 the Priest branch was established.

The Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world, including the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. They provide effective help to the poorest of the poor in a number of countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and they undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, epidemics, and famine, and for refugees. The order also has houses in North America, Europe and Australia, where they take care of the shut-ins, alcoholics, homeless, and AIDS sufferers.

The Missionaries of Charity throughout the world are aided and assisted by Co-Workers who became an official International Association on March 29, 1969. By the 1990s there were over one million Co-Workers in more than 40 countries. Along with the Co-Workers, the lay Missionaries of Charity try to follow Mother Teresa's spirit and charism in their families.

Mother Teresa's work has been recognised and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971) and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972). She also received the Balzan Prize (1979) and the Templeton and Magsaysay awards.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1971-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

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David Trimble

Trimble was born in Bangor, County Down, and educated locally winning a scholarship to Bangor Grammar School. He then went onto attend Queen's University Belfast from where he was to graduate with a first class honours degree in Law and in 1969 qualified as a barrister. By this stage Trimble had already taken up a post as a Lecturer in Law at Queen's (1968-77) and later served as a Senior Lecturer (1977-81) and as Head of Department, Commercial and Property Law (1981-89). His interest in politics developed in the early 1970s when along with many others he became increasingly disillusioned with the existing unionist leadership in Northern Ireland. This reached its peak after March 1972 with the suspension of the Stormont Parliament and the introduction of direct rule from Westminster. As a result Trimble was to associate himself with the Ulster Vanguard movement, which along with others, attempted to organise unionist opinion to oppose such developments. In 1973 when this group evolved into the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP) he became a member and unsuccessfully stood for election at the Assembly elections in June 1973.

During the loyalist workers' strike of May 1974, aimed at bringing down the Sunningdale Agreement (1973), Trimble was to play an important role behind the scenes in ensuring that it was ultimately successful. After these events had helped to end the immediate prospects of political stability the British government was left with little option but to try a fresh approach. This involved elections to a Constitutional Convention in May 1975 which was then to be given the task of drafting proposals for the governance of Northern Ireland which could secure cross-community support. Trimble was elected for the constituency of Belfast South (1975-76) as a representative of the VUUP to the Convention. Along with his party colleagues they reached an agreement to work with other unionist groupings who had opposed Sunningdale under the title of the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC). Within the UUUC he was then to be closely involved in the proposals it put forward to break the political stalemate in Northern Ireland. Not surprisingly this plan failed to reach the standard set by the authorities at Westminster. In an effort to find a compromise, Trimble supported the suggestion by William Craig, then leader of the VUUP, for plans to form a voluntary coalition with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Such an idea met with little support within the VUUP and led to a serious split in the party but he remained loyal to Craig, later emerging as its new Deputy Leader (1975-78).

But the VUUP had suffered a fatal blow from this internal crisis and in 1978 it ceased to operate as a political party and so with some of his former colleagues, he joined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Gradually Trimble began to establish himself within the UUP and associated himself with those in the party that sought to have devolved power restored to Northern Ireland. In 1990 he then found himself becoming the UUP's candidate at the Westminster by-election for the constituency of Upper Bann. As a safe unionist seat it came as no great surprise when Trimble went onto become the new MP (1990-present). In this new role he soon gained greater prominence and went onto become a member of the UUP's delegation at the all-party talks during 1991-92. Due to his uncompromising views on Northern Ireland's constitutional position he won few admirers from nationalist and republican opinion and if anything this view was strengthened as he reacted with a great deal of scepticism to developments in the 'Peace Process' in the early to mid 1990s.

In 1995 Trimble's role in the controversy surrounding the stand-off at Drumcree near Portdadown, over a disputed parade by local members of the Orange Order, did little to correct this perception of him as a hard-liner within the UUP. Within the UUP this controversy appeared to do him no harm and was widely seen as a contributory factor when he won the leadership of the party in September 1995. Initially his success on becoming leader of the UUP (1995-present) appeared to rule out the chances of an immediate political breakthrough. In particular it seemed to rule out the possibility of the efforts by the British and Irish governments to find a formula that would allow the republican movement to participate in a new round of political negotiations with the other main parties in Northern Ireland. Thus in the apparent absence of any moves by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to meet his demands for the decommissioning of their weaponry, Trimble refused to agree to enter any talks process with their representatives.

In May 1996 he was returned to the Northern Ireland Forum for the constituency of Upper Bann (1996-98) and led his party into the multi-party negotiations which commenced in June 1996. Following the entry of Sinn Féin (SF) into the talks process in September 1997, Trimble overcame internal UUP opposition to remain involved in these. By April 1998 he again defied criticism from his own party to sign up to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and went onto campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the subsequent referendum campaign in May 1998. His efforts during this time were to be recognised when later in 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Following the elections to the new Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 Trimble was elected to this body for Upper Bann. He then went onto play an important part in the discussions that were to follow which set out to ensure that the administrative structures envisaged under the GFA would be created. Finally in November 1999 with the establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive, he took up the position of First Minister (1999-2001 and 2001-02). Since then however Trimble has resigned twice from this post in July 2001 and October 2002 in an effort to force the pace on the issue of paramilitary decommissioning. At the same time he has also faced challenges from within the UUP itself over his handling of the implementation of the GFA.

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is remembered for his vital role as the leader in preserving the Union during the Civil War and beginning the process that led to the end of slavery in the United States. He is also remembered for his character, his speeches and letters, and as a man of humble origins whose determination and perseverance led him to the nation's highest office.

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John Hume

Born in Derry and educated at St Columb's College, Derry, and St Patrick's College, Maynooth, from which he graduated with a BA. honours degree before beginning work as a teacher. Before he became involved in active politics at the end of the 1960s, Hume's profile in his native city of Derry had been raised by his participation in a number of community initiatives. For instance he had involved himself in the local Credit Union movement and had been one of the most prominent figures in the unsuccessful campaign aimed at ensuring the city became the site of Northern Ireland's second university. Frustrated and increasingly disillusioned with the apparent unwillingness of the Unionist government at Stormont to adequately address the growing calls from the minority community in Northern Ireland for a thorough programme of economic, political and social reform, Hume chose to participate in the civil rights campaign. Following violence at a civil rights march in Derry on 5 October 1968 he was elected on to the Derry Citizens' Action Committee as Vice-Chairman and attempted to try to ensure that future protests remained peaceful. This role allowed him to challenge and win a parliamentary seat, representing the Foyle constituency in the city (1969-72) in the Stormont election of February 1969.

In association with a number of others Hume then worked to try to establish a new opposition grouping to provide a more strident and vibrant opposition to the Unionist authorities. As a result he was to be one of the co-founders of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in August 1970. In his position as one of the leading members of the SDLP he participated in the negotiations in the period after the suspension of Stormont in 1972 aimed at producing a new political settlement for Northern Ireland. These were to culminate with the Sunningdale Agreement (1973) by which the party agreed to join a power-sharing executive to administer Northern Ireland, with a Council of Ireland also being established to help formalise relations between the administrations in Belfast and Dublin. In the subsequent elections for a Northern Ireland Assembly, Hume was to be elected as a member (1973-74) and once the Executive was formed took up the position of Minister of Commerce (January to May 1974).

In this role he had to face the economic problems caused by the loyalist strike of May 1974 aimed at bringing down the agreement reached at Sunningdale. The events of this period were to leave a lasting impression on Hume and after the failure of the Constitutional Convention (1975-76) Hume became convinced that an entirely fresh approach was needed. This soon became based on the view that a simple internal solution for Northern Ireland would not work. Instead an alternative had to be found which looked to bring outside influences to bear in order for them to encourage the search for an end to the political stalemate. For Hume this meant involving politicians not only in the Republic of Ireland but in the United States of America and Europe. Such views soon brought him into conflict with senior members of the SDLP and these differences were really only solved when he became party Leader in November 1979 (1979-2001).

Once Hume took on the leadership of the SDLP he attempted to press ahead with his strategy of forging closer links with the political establishment in Dublin in addition to those on the international stage. In the pursuit of these aims Hume was to benefit from his growing profile as one of three Northern Ireland Members of the European Parliament (MEP; 1979-present) and as a Westminster MP (1983-present). As a result under Hume the SDLP refused to take part in political initiatives within the north of Ireland which lacked this wider dimension and so refused to take part in either the Constitutional Conference in 1980 or the Northern Ireland Assembly of which he was to be a member (1982-86.) Instead the SDLP chose to participate in the New Ireland Forum (NIF) (1983-84) in Dublin which sought to encourage constitutional nationalism to produce a new framework by which Irish unity could be achieved. Developments elsewhere however gave the first indication that his attempt to bring international pressure to bear on the situation was at last making some headway. In 1985 the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) was signed and received a positive response, particularly in America and Europe. But progress towards stability remained painfully slow in Northern Ireland and there was little indication of an end to the paramilitary campaigns which in turn negated against any political breakthrough.

In order to try to overcome these hurdles in 1988 Hume commenced a series of negotiations with representatives of the Republican movement, most notably with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). Although his decision was met by criticism from both outside and within the SDLP, Hume chose to persevere. In doing so he later justified his participation in these talks by stating that by the early 1990s they had laid the basis for developments in what soon became known as the 'Peace Process'. Elected to the Northern Ireland Forum in June 1996 he was then to lead his party in the multi-party discussions which finally commenced in September 1997. As such he was at the forefront of the efforts that were to produce the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998 and took part in campaigning for a 'Yes' vote in the in the subsequent referendum held in May 1998.

His role was later recognised in 1998 when along with the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), he was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In June 1998 Hume was elected to the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2000) and again participated in the talks that then followed to allow for the full implementation of the GFA. When in November 1999 the Northern Ireland Executive was established he chose not to accept the position allotted to his party, namely that of Deputy First Minister, and this was taken as evidence of his desire to cut back on his political commitments. It therefore came as no surprise when he announced his decision to retire from the Assembly in August 2000. With increasing health problems, a year later in September 2001, he chose to resign as Leader of the SDLP although for the time being he decided to remain as an MP and

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Rigoberta Menchu

Rigoberta Menchú was born on January 9, 1959 to a poor Indian peasant family and raised in the Quiche branch of the Mayan culture. In her early years she helped with the family farm work, either in the northern highlands where her family lived, or on the Pacific coast, where both adults and children went to pick coffee on the big plantations.

Rigoberta Menchú soon became involved in social reform activities through the Catholic Church, and became prominent in the women's rights movement when still only a teenager. Such reform work aroused considerable opposition in influential circles, especially after a guerilla organization established itself in the area. The Menchú family was accused of taking part in guerrilla activities and Rigoberta's father, Vicente, was imprisoned and tortured for allegedly having participated in the execution of a local plantation owner. After his release, he joined the recently founded Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC).

In 1979, Rigoberta, too, joined the CUC. That year her brother was arrested, tortured and killed by the army. The following year, her father was killed when security forces in the capital stormed the Spanish Embassy where he and some other peasants were staying. Shortly afterwards, her mother also died after having been arrested, tortured and raped. Rigoberta became increasingly active in the CUC, and taught herself Spanish as well as other Mayan languages than her native Quiche. In 1980, she figured prominently in a strike the CUC organized for better conditions for farm workers on the Pacific coast, and on May 1, 1981, she was active in large demonstrations in the capital. She joined the radical 31st of January Popular Front, in which her contribution chiefly consisted of educating the Indian peasant population in resistance to massive military oppression.

In 1981, Rigoberta Menchú had to go into hiding in Guatemala, and then flee to Mexico. That marked the beginning of a new phase in her life: as the organizer abroad of resistance to oppression in Guatemala and the struggle for Indian peasant peoples' rights. In 1982, she took part in the founding of the joint opposition body, The United Representation of the Guatemalan Opposition (RUOG). In 1983, she told her life story to Elisabeth Burgos Debray. The resulting book, called in English, I, Rigoberta Menchú, is a gripping human document which attracted considerable international attention. In 1986, Rigoberta Menchú became a member of the National Coordinating Committee of the CUC, and the following year she performed as the narrator in a powerful film called When the Mountains Tremble, about the struggles and sufferings of the Maya people. On at least three occasions, Rigoberta Menchú has returned to Guatemala to plead the cause of the Indian peasants, but death threats have forced her to return into exile.

Over the years, Rigoberta Menchú has become widely known as a leading advocate of Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation, not only in Guatemala but in the Western Hemisphere generally, and her work has earned her several international awards.

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East Timor was colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th Century. When the Portuguese leave in 1975 it appears the colony might finally gain its independence. But Indonesia invades at the end of the same year and he East Timorese begin a 24-year struggle to liberate their homeland. Born on 26 December 1949 in Dili to a Timorese mother and Portuguese father Ramos-Horta is educated in a Roman Catholic mission. Working as a journalist he

In February Ramos-Horta is awarded the first UNPO prize, given by the Unrepresented National and Peoples Organisation for his "unswerving commitment to the rights of and freedoms of threatened peoples." In October Ramos-Horta and Bishop Carlos Belo are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor". "Ramos-Horta has been the leading international spokesman for East Timor's cause since 1975," the Norwegian Nobel Committee says. "Recently he has made a significant contribution through the 'reconciliation talks' and by working out a peace plan for the region."

"In awarding this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Belo and Ramos-Horta, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wants to honour their sustained and self-sacrificing contributions for a small but oppressed people. The Nobel Committee hopes that this award will spur efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in East Timor based on the people's right to self-determination."

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Emily Pankhurst

Country: Great Britain.

Cause: Equal voting rights for women.

Background: The Reform Acts of 1832, 1867 and 1884 extend the right to vote to all British men. But women are excluded. Women and their supporters unite to fight for full and equal voting rights.

Mini biography: Born Emmeline Goulden on 14 July 1858 in Manchester, England.

1879 - She marries Richard Marsden Pankhurst, a lawyer who drafted an amendment to the Municipal Franchise Act of 1869, which allowed unmarried women householders to vote in local elections, and who wrote the Married Women's Property acts in 1870 and 1882.

1880 - Her daughter Christabel Harriette Pankhurst is born. The first of Pankhurst's five children, she is destined to also become prominent in the women's suffrage movement, as is Pankhurst's second daughter, Sylvia, born in 1882.

1889 - She helps found the Women's Franchise League. Her husband, Richard, dies of a perforated ulcer.

1894 - The league wins the right for married women to vote in elections for local offices, but not the right for them to vote for the House of Commons.

1895 - She holds a succession of municipal offices in Manchester.

1903 - She founds the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Manchester.

1905 - The suffrage movement attracts wide attention in October when two of its members, Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney, are jailed. After being thrown out of a Liberal Party election rally for demanding a statement about votes for women, the two were arrested in the street for a technical assault on the police but refused to pay their fines.

1906 - Pankhurst directs WSPU activities from London. She organises marches and rallies and campaigns against the Liberal government's candidates at elections. Her followers interrupt meetings of Cabinet ministers. The women are disparaged as "suffragettes" by the 'Daily Mail' newspaper but the movement proudly adopts the description.

1908-09 - She is jailed three times.

1910 - On 18 November a deputation from the WSPU including Pankhurst attempts to gain admission to the House of Commons to see Prime Minister Asquith and protest against the dropping of the Conciliation Bill, which would have given women the vote. Pankhurst is refused entry by the police. The protest develops into a riot when the women try to break through the police lines. Over 100 women are arrested on charges varying from disturbing the peace to assaulting police officers, although most charges are subsequently dropped. Many of the women accuse the police of brutality. The day comes to be known to the suffragettes as 'Black Friday'.

1912 - The WSPU becomes militant, with Christabel Pankhurst directing arson attacks, window smashing, picture slashing and hunger strikes from Paris, where she has fled to avoid arrest for conspiracy. Emmeline is arrested, released and rearrested 12 times within a year, serving a total of about 30 days jail. Under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act of 1913 (the 'Cat and Mouse Act') hunger-striking prisoners could be freed for a time and then reimprisoned when strong enough to serve the rest of their sentences.

1914 - When the First World War breaks out Pankhurst and Christabel call off the suffrage campaign to support the war effort. The government releases all suffragist prisoners. During the war Pankhurst visits the United States, Canada, and Russia to encourage the mobilisation of women. After the war she lives in the US, Canada, and Bermuda for several years.

1917 - The WSPU changes its name to the Women's Party.

1918 - The Representation of People Act is passed in February. The act gives the vote to women over 30.

1926 - Pankhurst returns to England and is chosen as the Conservative candidate for an east London seat, but her health fails before she can be elected.

1928 - She dies on 14 June in London, a few weeks after the Representation of the People Act establishing voting equality for men and women is passed.

Comment: It seems incredible these days that women in the West were ever denied equal voting rights. It seems even more incredible that women in Britain had to fight for about 80 years and finally resort to violent protest to win this right. This wasn't the case elsewhere. Women in New Zealand obtained the vote peaceably in 1893. Australian women were given the franchise on 12 June 1902, 18 months after the country federated. Australian women were also the first in the world to be given the right to stand for parliament. Women in the US got the vote in 1920. There are heroes in all of these stories but the drama and significance of the struggle in Britain throws Emmeline Pankhurst's story into prominence.

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Mary Robinson

Born on 21 May 1944 in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland, Mary Robinson is married and has three children. Educated at Trinity College, Mrs. Robinson also holds law degrees from the King's Inns in Dublin and from Harvard University.After her distinguished seven-year presidency of Ireland Mary Robinson became High Commissioner for Human Rights on 12 September 1997. Mrs. Robinson assumed responsibility for the UN human rights programme at a time of great change. Mrs. Robinson has given priority to implementing the reform proposal of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to integrate human rights concerns in all the activities of the United Nations. She placed special emphasis during her Presidency on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today's nutrition, poverty and policy issues, thus creating a bridge of partnership between developed and developing countries. Her Office now has staff monitoring human rights or providing technical assistance in over 20 countries.

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Adie Roche

Adie Roche is widely known for her volunteering in Chernobyl after its nuclear accident.

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Sr Stanislaus Kennedy

Educated at Presentation Convent, Dingle, University College Dublin(UCD) and Manchester University. She joined the Sisters of Charity in 1958 and in 1964 she was sent to the Kilkenny Social Services Group, under the guidance of Bishop Birch. She became director in 1970.

She went to Dublin in 1983 and undertook the first major study of homelessness. She created Focus Point in Eustace Street, one of the most active agencies for the deprived in the city; Focus Housing (in 1989), based in the sisters of Charity’s convent, Stanhope Street; and the national research, development and public awareness project, Focus Ireland in 1994. She was Chairperson of the National committee to Combat Poverty from 1974-80.

Her books include Who Should Care? and One Million Poor? (1981). She has also written articles and papers. She has frequent clashes with public figures because of her outspoken views on social issues. She became the first nun to receive an honorary doctorate from Trinity College Dublin(TCD) (1982).

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Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. AI's vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

In pursuit of this vision, AI's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.

AI is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. It does not support or oppose any government or political system, nor does it support or oppose the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect. Its main aim is the protection of human rights.

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Childline is a listening service for children run by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC).Childline belongs to all children in Ireland. Childline is a freephone number so it won't cost anything to call.
Childline is there to listen 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - all day and all night.

You can talk to Childline about anything. You don't have to have a problem to call, you can call just to have a chat if you choose to. You have a right to have an opinion and to be listened to. Childline takes thousands of calls every year from children who want to talk about all kinds of different things.

You have a right to be safe. Childline is a safe place where you know you can be listened to and believed. If something is on your mind, but you're not sure whether it is a problem, you should call anyway. We're there to listen whenever you feel worried or concerned about anything because talking to someone in private can help to clear things up in your own mind. Childline won't show up on any landline phone bills. The call might show up on itemised bills for some billed mobile phones, but this depends which network you are on.


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Combat Poverty

Combat Poverty is a national organisation in Ireland dedicated to advising on ways to prevent and eliminate poverty and social exclusion.

Established in 1986, we are recognised for our independent and authoritative voice. We believe that more equal and fairer distribution of resources is essential to eliminate poverty.

Browse their site to find out more about Combat Poverty and the work they do.

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Pavee Point

Pavee Point is a partnership of Irish Travellers and settled people working together to improve the lives of Irish Travellers through working towards social justice, solidarity, socio-economic development and human rights. Pavee point represent travelles and protect their human rights.

Travellers are small in number but have been part of Irish society for centuries. Pavee point also try to educate the public about the traveler culture.

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The Samaritans are a charity, founded in 1953, which exists to provide confidential emotional support to any person, who is suicidal or despairing; and to increase public awareness of issues around suicide and depression.

Trained volunteers provide this service 24 hours every day. It is free. You are guaranteed absolute confidentiality and that you will not be judged. They believe that everyone has the right to control their own destiny - including the right to end their life.

Samaritan volunteers are not professional counselors or psychotherapists. They are caring volunteers who have been trained in the art of listening and empathy.

They have over 200 centres in the U.K. and Ireland. Their international parent organization, Befrienders International, has 31,000 volunteers in 357 centres in 41 countries worldwide.

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Simon Community

The Simon Community is a caring and campaigning movement that has been working with homeless people in Ireland since 1969. Today there are Simon Communities in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk and Galway . Together they form a national federation called The Simon Community of Ireland. The Simon Community see homelessness as about more than just being without a roof or a house. It is about lack of shelter, lack of security, lack of belonging, and lack of safety.

The official count carried out by the Department of the Environment over a one week period in March 1999 found 5,234 homeless people throughout the country. This figure is based on returns sent by each local authority area. The majority (2,900) were counted in the Dublin Region. Many local authorities failed to report any homeless persons in their area. The Simon Community estimates that about 10,000 people experience homelessness each year.

The Simon Community approaches the issue of homelessness in two ways. On one level they offer accommodation and care to homeless people in a warm and accepting community. At a broader level they try to challenge Irish society to accept responsibility for tackling the root causes of homelessness and for designing long-term strategies for its elimination.

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Trócaire, which means "Compassion" in the Irish languageTrócaire is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland. It was set up by
the Irish Catholic Bishops in 1973 to express the concern of the Irish Church for the suffering of the world’s
poorest and most oppressed people.

Trócaire had two main aims: to support long-term development projects overseas and to provide relief during emergencies; and at home to inform the Irish public about the root causes of poverty and injustice and mobilise the public to bring about global change. Trócaire supports communities in their efforts to improve their lives, meet their basic needs and ensure their human dignity.

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UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is a global champion for children’s rights which makes a lasting difference by working with communities and influencing governments.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – which sets out the right of all children to reach their full potential – is the foundation of all our work. UNICEF works in 158 countries and territories to fulfil children’s rights to health and nutrition; education; emergency relief; protection; and water and sanitation. By working in partnership with others, from governments and teachers to youth groups and mothers, UNICEF is a driving force for people throughout the world working to ensure a better future for children.

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