Bernadette Devlin

Life
1947- ; [Bernadette Josephine Devlin; later McAliskey] Co. Tyrone; ed. St Patrick’s Girls’ Academy, Dungannon; studied psychology, QUB; member of NI Civil Rights and People’s Democracy, 1968 who became ‘overnight indistinguishable, in the minds of many, from Jaon of Arc’ (according to Bernard Levin); visited Black Panthers in Harlem, 1969; MP for Mid-Ulster, 1969-74; issued The Price of My Soul (London: André Deutsch 1969); founder-member of Irish Republican Socialist Party in 1974; escaped assassination by loyalists with serious gunshot injuries, 1981; contested non-broadcasting of her voice on television, 1992. FDA

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Works
[McAliskey,] On the Irish Freedom Struggle (Pathfinder 1983; 1994); Foreword to Ruth Taillon, When History was Made: The Women of 1916 (Belfast: Beyond the Pale Publ. 1996).

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Criticism
George William Target, The Story of Bernadette Devlin (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1975), 384pp. ills. & ports.; ‘No Trust in Prince or Peer’, interview with James D. Young, in Causeway (Spring 1996), pp.34-35.

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Quotations
Where are We Now in the Peace Process?’, in The Irish Reporter, “What Peace Process?” [Special Issue], 21 (Feb. 1996), pp.23-28: ‘[…] Getting where? / ‘I am “rural”, born and bred for generations, from the peat, stone, heather, brown water, easy walk and contrary, independent mind of Tyrone. I am a woman, a socialist, an anti-clerical dissenter, whose entire adult life was, and is absorbed in this struggle. I am nearly 49 years old. I am not intellectually incapable of understanding the peace process. I understand it, and I reject it, because it has from it.s, embryonic stages in the original Dublin Forum, created by CJ Haughey, and the resulting Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, been a process whose aim is to eradicate republicanism, not violence. / I, like tens of thousands more, struggle daily, with an unfathomable depth of pain, loss, and sorrow, as the legacy of this war. I will carry to my grave the, burden of that sorrow and the marks of that pain. So with everybody else who has suffered, as will our children, and through their pain, our children’s children. We will, as we get on with life, because life leaves no choice but to be got on with, in every quiet moment, on every lonely hill, in every crowded, chattering hall, at the going down of every sun, hear the sound of our own hearts breaking. / To suggest an emotional need for the ‘safe days of War’ adds insult to irreversible injury. I am not emotionally incapable of adjusting to peace. I reject this process, because it cannot and will not lead towards the achievement of any of the noble, just, democratic ideals for which people gave their liberty and their fives, and took other people’s lives. Nor will it lead to the peaceful resolution of the historic conflict on this island, or between these islands. / This process is nothing more than a realignment of the interface of the two power blocs in Northern Ireland, unionism and nationalism, within the United Kingdom . The end of this process is a ‘powersharing’ assembly, several cross-border boards, and a referendum every 10 years, or every 20. That has been British policy since Darlington 1972. (And also SDLP policy since 1972.) / I asked when the War ended in August 1994, I asked again in August 1995, and I ask now, in February 1996. Other than returning to war (which the Leadership knows is not an option), does the republican leadership have an alternative strategy to the unpublished Hume-Adams strategy, the Hibernian alliance (which ended the War) (a) to make the British come to the table in the time envisaged, and (b) to make the British negotiate outside the limitations of the Downing Street Declaration? / If they do not, they have led the republican community to defeat.’ (p.23.)

References
Frank Ormsby, ed., Northern Windows, An Anthology of Ulster Autobiography (Belfast: Blackstaff 1987), pp.221-42, extract from The Price of My Soul (1969)

Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994), extract from The Price of My Soul (1969).

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Notes
John Montague dedicated his “A New Siege” to Bernadette Devlin. The poem contains the lines, ‘the defiant face / of a young girl / campaigning against / memory’s mortmain […].’ (Collected Poems, 1995, p.73).

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