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Today (Feb 4) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman
elected to the British parliament! This was in the general election of
December 1918, at the end of WW1. No, not a Tory reactionary, but an Irish
revolutionary - Constance Markievicz.

She was in jail at the time in London. She had been second-in-command lof
the insurrectionary forces at Stephen's Green during the 1916 Rebellion in
Dublin; after the surrender she was tried by court-martial and sentenced to
death, commuted to penal servitidue for life on account of being a woman.

The British were subsequently forced to release the prisoners, from the end
of 1916 to mid-1917. Considered one of the hardest of the hard-core, she
was in the very last group of prisoners to be released, returning to an
ecstatis welcome in Dublin.

In May 1918 she was arrested for sedition and again imprisoned in England.
It was here that she ran for parliament.

She stood on a platform of independence and radical social change in
Ireland and not taking her seat at Westminster if elected.

In that election, 73 seats were won by people who said they wouldn't take
their seat at Westminster if elected.

Markievicz was the founder of the very first republican paramilitary
organisation of the 20th century, Na Fianna Eireann. She was one of the
founding leaders, a few years later, of a workers' militia, described by
Lenin as "Europe's first Red Army".

And she subsequently led the women's wing of the Irish Republican Army,
Cumann na mBan.

She opposed the "Anglo-Irish Treaty" of Dec 1921, arguing that it was an
attempt by the ruling classes of England and Ireland to prevent the unity
of British and Irish workers and a betrayal of the masses of countries like
India and Egypt who were still struggling to free themselves from the yoke
of British imperialism.

Here is Markievicz's speech against the Treaty, delivered in the Irish
parliament, where she was minister of labour at the time.

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