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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Everybody Matters: A Memoir
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 May 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I seem to be having a 'feminine political autobiography season' right now. I read and reviewed Shirley Williams' 'Climbing the Bookshelves' last week here on Amazon. Indeed, there are parallels between the two women. Both were from a privileged background; both were committed feminists, with a vision of social justice and fairer society. Mary's willingness to take on her country's very constitution where it's enshrined Catholic stance compromised those goals is quite remarkable, as was her work as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Any autobiography, by it's very nature, has it's objective limitations compared to an authorised biography, but this is definitely one of the best, most honest political memoirs and well worth a read.
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on 6 May 2013
Bought this book for my boyfriend and he really enjoyed it :)
Also, postage was really quick and I can even trade this in once he has finished with it to get him another pressie!
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on 2 November 2012
This book is a great easy read, and it has a right to be included in the National Archives of many countries. The pages fly past, all illustrating the advice she gives to young people 'not to be afraid to speak the truth to power'. She comes across as a truly great woman, wife, mother, grandmother, and who is proud of Ballina. Her years of study in law prepared her to articulate the defects of society as she observed them as a politian, President of Ireland, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and also as an elder.
Young people will not remember the nation's early fervour around the Constitution, which made everyone equal under the law, and gave no-one the right to be wrong. Who best to determine what was right than the Hierarchy! They regarded marriage as an institution which was the cornerstone of the State and civilisation. There would be no children born out of wedlock. There would be no divorce. There would be no contraception of any kind, homosexuality was an abomination, abortion will never happen. Everyone had a right to a Catholic education where these principles would be firmly taught. But institutions are about PEOPLE. The hierarchy fought every attack on marriage with every instrument of power it had, including their faithful political associates. Their lack of ability to appreciate the destructive nature of their own power saw over the years the very values they sought to defend disintegrate in their own hands. They will blame the secular society. Mary was at the heart of the change they resisted, and she was no secularist. She helped give Irish people the legal opportunity to follow their conscious because everybody mattered. The hierarchy are now calling people (whom they have unofficially excommunicated) back to grace without as much as saying sorry for past spiritual trauma, let alone taking ownership of them.
The 'candle' still burns in Arus an Uachtarain, as a symbol to our emigrants that they are appreciated. The Chairman of the Irish Centre London, Mr. Frank Caulfield, used to recall how Ireland would export it's cattle for every penny it could get, but gave it's people away for nothing. Millions of them! Mary was conscious she was President of them all, and she showed it. She made the office of President as meaningful as she could in all parts of Ireland, including the troubled 'North'.
One got the feeling that the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights for the UN was another completely different ball game. It was a man's game, and she was trying to the change the rules. There was something inevitable about casualties of war, casualties of exploitation, casualties of famine, casualties of gender, causalities of culture. They have always been there; let the charitable give help, but we'll get over it. Not good enough for Mary, and she tried to change a culture of tolerance into an effective resolution. In doing so she got a few 'black eyes' so to speak. There also seemed to be blood on the floor and some of it was hers!
Where did this power come from? A clue is perhaps on page 305. "I learnt as a child watching my father ...the immese power of listening, a simple act with enormous impact." This book could do the same for you.
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on 27 November 2012
Mary Robinson grew up in the 1950s, which was perhaps the worst period in recent Irish social history; I know, having lived through it too. Her childhood was spent in Ballina and at boarding school in Dublin. She was fortunate enough to be born into an elite; both parents were doctors and highly regarded citizens, locally at least. She could have led a comfortable and uncontroversial life but choose to act differently. When she started out on her legal and political work, Ireland was still strictly bound by the firewall surrounding the island, erected in accord with the dictates of the Catholic church: censorship of books, not just pornography as in other countries but censorship of IDEAS; censorship of plays, of films, even of newspapers and the other media. The Irish were not to be permitted to know. The Church dictated how far the Irish were to march, and decreed the limits of ordinary political and other discussion and the politicians willingly complied, as did ironically the post-colonial people of the island. They spoke of Irish freedom - but few western European countries were as unfree as the free Irish Republic.

It was into this situation that Mary Robinson launched herself, with her formidable political and legal skills; availing of constitutional law and the fledgling notion of human rights to get things moving. None of Mary Robinson's work was easy: it led to severe strains with the rigidly Catholic side of her family, fortunately temporary. What eventually came about was nothing less than the belated implementation of the Enlighenment in Ireland - as had come to most of Europe a century or more previously. Her battle was to be a long one; for her personally, it ultimately culminated in the presidency, an office she availed of to the maximum to expedite the process of change. By her legendary visit to West Belfast, she made a signficant contribution towards motivating both sides to get talking with one another. When she visited war-torn regions of Africa, a revolutionary thing for an Irish president to do, she heself was visibly shocked and this set the agenda for the international role she would take up after leaving the presidency; extending internationally what she had done nationally.

Apart from being an important historic document: this is a fascinating story of personal and national development - and also a most entertaining read. I hesitate to say 'must' but: this is truly a must for anyone with even a passing interest in late 20th century Irish history. We discover quite a lot about Mary Robinson and the system within which she had to operate - but don't quite discover what gave her this strength and the uncomprising nature of her approach. Some day, another biography of her must be written...
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on 17 October 2012
A truly inspirational memoir, many thanks Mrs Robinson. I recommend this book to all. A wonderful Christmas present for your friends.
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on 2 December 2012
Everyone should read this book. It tells of an inspirational women who fought for the rights of others not getting a fair shout whoever they are all over the world. Read on holiday expecting it to be a bit heavy but on the contrary a most interesting uplifting book.
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on 4 June 2013
I chose this book because I have always thought that Mary Robinson was a lovely lady and this book proves it. I also proves what grit and determination can achieve Well done a very good read
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on 15 October 2012
Bought this book after seeing Mary Robinson on TV. Haven't finished it yet but husband has read it and enjoyed. Arrived virtually by return post
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on 1 December 2012
This is an inspiring story of a determined and courageous lady fighting for her beliefs and for the underdog. I thoroughly recommend it. The World could do with many more Mary Robinsons!
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on 5 December 2012
The book was delivered quickly and was in excellent condition. Interesting summary of a powerful womans life.Mary Robinson's work has made and will make a vast difference to the freedom of an idividual to choose their destiny.
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