Former president of Ireland to address SLU community Feb. 5

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The Great Issues Committee and the women’s REACH Leadership Program will welcome former president of Ireland Mary Robinson on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Busch Student Center Ballrooms. Her speech is entitled “Making Human Rights the Compass for All Ethical Globalization.”

“We are very excited to have Mary Robinson coming to speak,” said Dan McGinnis, the chair of the GIC. “She brings a unique opportunity to both the University and to St. Louis since there is a large Irish population, and she brings prominence with being a former president of Ireland. She [will speak] about globalization and human rights, which is something the committee feels that students at SLU will find very important.”

Robinson was born in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland on May 21, 1944, the daughter to two medical doctors.

She eventually attended Trinity College in Dublin, though she had to receive special permission from the Archbishop of Dublin at the time to attend the college since she was Catholic and Trinity College was Protestant. She studied law and became a Reid Professor of Law in her twenties.

Robinson began her political career in Dublin City Council in 1978 and served until 1983. She then served as legal adviser of the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform. Robinson first worked in the Irish upper house as an independent before joining the Labour Party in the mid ’70s.

In 1982, Robinson resigned from the party because of agreements that were made with the British Government. She spent four more years the Irish upper house before being asked by the Labour party to run for president of Ireland in 1989. She won the presidency in 1990, becoming the first female president of Ireland.

Since she was well known for her work for human rights, she was nominated to be the high commissioner for the Human Rights Commission in 1997.

Robinson resigned the presidency to be a part of the Human Rights Commission.

Check next week’s issue of The University News for a story covering Robinson’s speech and an exclusive interview with the former president herself.