“To enable the powerless, the invisible, to be part of making the change, that changes how they see themselves and that changes everything”
Inez McCormack, the internationally renowned human rights activist died yesterday 21st January following a short illness.
In accordance with her wishes, the Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR) organisaton, which she founded and advised, has today announced the establishment of an Inez McCormack Fund. This fund will support the continuation and furtherance of her work and principles.
Dessie Donnelly, Director (Development) said:
“Inez’s life work – her considerable skills as an organiser, negotiator, visionary, orator, and leader was placed at the service of marginalised people. Her unwavering belief in the ability and dignity of groups pushed to the margins ran seamlessly throughout all of the issues and campaigns she led and supported.”
“The Inez McCormack Fund will support the development of Inez’s life work by practically re-affirming the principles she lived for. It will support practical and effective initiatives to support groups and individuals to achieve change for those who need it the most.”
In their tributes to Inez, many have spoken not only of her warmth, humour and commitment but also of the legacy her work leaves for us all.
Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN Human Rights Commissioner, reaffirmed the importance of the legacy of Inez’s work in her comments yesterday, she said;
“It was from Inez I learned that you can achieve much more if you don’t need the credit. Her support to me as a close adviser when I served as President was invaluable, but she never appeared in photographs or in the front row.
Inez had unique qualities of listening and affirming. They enabled her to encourage local communities – in Belfast initially, then throughout the island- to engage with the International Human Rights System and use it as a tool to empower them in addressing the quality and fairness of local authority services. This work was recognised recently by the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights as a great example for other communities to follow.”
The President of Ireland, Michael D.Higgins, said;
“Inez was a passionate and committed human rights activist who fought all her life and in so many settings for the creation of a fairer society for workers, for minorities, and for women. In her pursuit of a better and more equal world she demonstrated courage, integrity and true grit in pushing against the boundaries of exclusion….Inez will be remembered as a great pioneer, who broke through so many challenges and barriers, a brave fighter, and a person of extraordinary generosity whose contribution to an inclusive citizenship and a better world has been immense.”
Award winning actress Meryl Streep chose to portray Inez’s life in a reading of a documentary play “SEVEN” in New York in 2010. SEVEN tells the personal stories of Inez and six other women who triumphed over enormous obstacles to create major positive change in their home countries. Following the production of Seven in New York, Inez was asked by Meryl Streep why she did her work – Inez replied saying: ‘At the heart of everything, I desire to see the glint in a woman’s eye who thought she was nobody, when she realises that she is somebody.’
Inez’s life revolved around recognising the dignity of those who were more accustomed to being sidelined and ignored. It is because of this, that her death will be equally mourned by those with power and those without.
An event will be held in Belfast in the coming weeks to celebrate Inez’s life.