Hibernian Law Medals 2022: Remarks by Mary Robinson

Pagespp 177 - 179
Published date12 July 2022
Date12 July 2022
Remarks by
ank you very much indeed. I am really very honored to receive the Hibernian
Law Medal in the company of Lady Hale. We have in common, coming from quite
a small village, then trying to get through quite a number of barriers and trying
to achieve our potential. So it is really a great honour to be in such distinguished
Unlike Lady Hale, unlike Ms Justice Mary Irvine,1 I strayed a bit from the law.
But it is always good to be back in the company of lawyers, and even judges! My
husband Nick is the other side of law for me. I was a barrister, he was a solicitor. We
had something in common with the Hibernian Law Journal, which I want to recall
related to a certain stage in my nal year in Trinity. I was a Co-Editor of a magazine
called Justice with Nick, but also with Fergus Armstrong, who was UCD. I was
Trinity, which was bridging quite a divide at the time! Not only that, but it ended
up that when we went to Harvard Law School, Fergus and myself were the only
Irish students there. So we remembered our days of editing the Justice magazine,
which was quite a task. Fergus sadly passed away, quite recently. He was a lifelong
friend, a wonderful man, wonderful solicitor and wonderful mediator. You should
look at his career, as he is somebody that you would learn a lot from.
As I say, I strayed from the law. And yet, I do not think I did, in understanding
the necessity to address the climate crisis from a justice perspective and by
understanding the injustices of the climate crisis. at, I think, is a very legal
perspective and that is the way I came to it. I was working for a small organisation
I had set up aer my time as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I
decided to work on the rights that really matter if you do not have them: rights
to food and water, health and education. ese are the rights that were not being
championed enough in the UN system. With this small organisation working in
African countries, I suddenly had an incredible awakening to something I had not
realised: it was actually climate change which was undermining all of these rights,
undermining them far earlier than in an Irish context.
You may recall, some of you, during my seven years as president of Ireland from
1990 and 1997, I never made a speech on climate because we were not aware. We
should have been maybe, but we were not. It was impacting us then, but it was
impacting already these poorest countries and poorest communities.
* Mary Robinson is a former President of Ireland.
1 Ms Justice Mary Irvine, President of the High Court, chaired the conferral ceremony.

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