Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on the Irish Government to send the heroes of the 1980s Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike to represent Ireland at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
Deputy McDonald said:
“It would be a fitting way for Ireland to honour Mr. Mandela if the government sent this group of Irish people, who seized the moral imperative and did what they could to challenge the apartheid regime in South Africa, to the funeral.
“The workers stood firm on their refusal to handle South African goods even in the face of great adversity and sometimes visceral, unjustified condemnation. They were able to carry on because they knew that they had right on their side. The strike went on for two and a half years. They even lost their jobs as a result.
“Their stance against that insidious system is a testament to the fortitude of ordinary Irish people and their keen sense of justice. Their protests are rightly burned into the collective consciousness of this country.
“The Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid workers are true friends of the South African people and of Mr.Mandela.
“Mr. Mandela himself stated that their campaign helped to sustain him during his imprisonment.
“It would be an honourable and commendable decision if the Irish Government sent those workers to represent Ireland at Mr. Mandela’s funeral.”