Bernadette Devlin McAliskey is to give the annual Field Day lecture at Derry’s Playhouse Theatre on Friday 30th September 2016.  This is the second annual Seamus Deane Honorary Field Day Lecture, a series launched last year to celebrate the life and work of this Derry native, who is the Field Day co-director, with actor/director Stephen Rea.

Professor Deane said it “seemed fit and right that, in these years of carefully managed and specious commemorations, we should hear again the voice of the country’s finest political orator who exposed the northern sectarian state, almost lost her life at its hands and who still excoriates the injustices of the political and economic systems in which we live.”

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey said she was “somewhat in awe and deeply honoured by this invitation and the opportunity to share my own perspectives on the state of the nation and where we might go from here”.  She said the debate inaugurated by Field Day some 40 years ago “centres on human dignity and freedom.  That debate needs to be sustained and widened in a world that increasingly denies and denigrates both.”

From Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey was a Queen’s University student when she took a leading role in the civil rights organisation People’s Democracy, who transformed political resistance in Northern Ireland by spearheading a mass movement for change. It was on a platform of equal voting, housing and employment rights that she was elected to Westminster in 1969, and took centre-stage by becoming the youngest ever woman MP at that time.  Her ‘electrifying’ maiden speech was given during an emergency debate on Northern Ireland.

Former People’s Democracy leader and human rights activist Michael Farrell will chair a question and answer session after the lecture. Farrell said Bernadette has campaigned on dozens of issues in the last decades, “but this lecture is a rare opportunity to hear her giving a broader, deeper view of what needs to be done to bring social justice to all on this island.”

The event opens with a solo cello performance by Belfast composer and musician Neil Martin. Actor/producer and Field Day co-director Stephen Rea will introduce the lecture series.  Bernadette’s lecture is titled ‘A Terrible State of Chassis’ and she will be introduced by Emer Nolan, Department of English, NUI Maynooth. The Annual Seamus Deane Field Day Annual Lecture takes place at the Playhouse Theatre on Friday 30th September 2016 at 7pm. To book, go to:

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About Bernadette Devlin McAliskey

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey is from Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. While still a student at Queen’s University, she and her colleagues in the newly-formed People’s Democracy transformed political resistance in the Northern Irish statelet by spearheading a socialist, anti-sectarian, mass movement for change. Her celebrity began when she was elected to Westminster for Mid Ulster in 1969 – then the youngest woman MP ever – and when she became a leading organizer on the barricades in Derry during the Battle of the Bogside.

In an electrifying maiden speech she declared herself, as the second Irish woman elected to Westminster, to be in the same tradition of feminist republicanism as the first, Constance Markievicz. Later, she was active in the Smash H-Blocks campaign, was seriously wounded in 1981 in an assassination attempt by Loyalists and British paratroopers, yet continued her sustained left-wing critique of many key developments in Ireland since, including the Peace Process.