Funeral of Mary Banotti hears of ‘fierce’ campaigning for women’s rights and a love of adventure

The funeral mass for Mary Banotti has heard she campaigned fiercely for women’s rights in Ireland and “truly sucked the marrow from the bone of life”.

Ms Banotti served as an MEP for Fine Gael in the Dublin constituency for 20 years from 1984 to 2004. She died peacefully on May 10 at St Vincent’s Hospital after spending time in the care of Fern Dean Nursing Home in Deansgrange.

The service took place at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock. Among the mourners were Taoiseach Simon Harris and Colonel Stephen Howard serving as a representative for President Michael D Higgins

In a eulogy read by her daughter Tania, she was remembered for her love of adventure and her decades of volunteer work, campaigning and political service.

"My mother was such a life force that it’s nearly impossible for me to capture her essence. One thing stands out. Her delight in new adventures,” she said.

“My mother was richly rewarded by her many, many new beginnings.”

Born in Malahide in 1939, Ms Banotti’s sister Nora Owen served as Minister for Justice and deputy leader of Fine Gael. Her mother Kitty O’Mahony was a niece of Michael Collins.

Her father Jim died when she was just 10 and at 19, she trained as a nurse in London “with a side hustle as an antiques dealer in Portobello”.

"As a fully trained nurse she lived in Greenwich Village in the 60s, acting in an off-off-Broadway play and joining the Civil Rights Movement,” her daughter said.

Ms Banotti then went on to work as a volunteer nurse with Crossroads Africa. While in Kenya she met Giovanni Banotti and the couple lived in what was then Rhodesia before moving to Rome, where Tania was born.

“As you might expect, conservative Roman expectations didn’t suit her and they separated. In 1970 she began again in an Ireland that didn’t welcome separated, working mothers. Mum saw the need and worked fiercely for real change for Irish women,” Tania said.

Ms Banotti became one of the co-founders of Women’s Aid, the organisation that opened the country’s first women’s refuge. Her work as a social worker led her to establish the Rutland Centre for Drug Abuse.

"She knew that real change required representation. Her TV show, Switch On to Social Welfare, while far from gripping, made her a household name, enabling her to enter politics.

"She bravely took a risk, left her job, ran twice for election and was eventually elected an MEP, a role she was made for. Campaigning by her side during election after election, I witnessed her brilliantly effective canvassing.”

During her time in Europe she continued to campaign for women’s rights and raised environmental concerns years before climate change became the significant issue it is today.

She also became the first EU mediator for parentally abducted children, a proud achievement borne out of personal trauma.

"I myself was abducted as a baby, leaving my mother distraught. She translated that trauma into action and was completely dedicated to the issue, on-call 24/7 with mothers and fathers desperate because their children had been taken,” Tania said.

"Mum listened with endless empathy and time for these families. She’d work her EU contacts to nudge the foreign diplomatic systems.”

In 1997, Ms Banotti contested the presidential election but lost out to Mary McAleese in what her family came to refer to as “the Mary election”.

"While she didn’t win, she was delighted to be part of an election where all the main candidates were women.”

Tania recalled her time spent living in Gaza and her mother’s advocacy for the people of Palestine during her time as an MEP.

"When I lived in Gaza there were often power cuts, so with no working lift mum proposed throwing the suitcases from the sixth floor to be collected below. After that trip she regaled everyone with stories of meeting Yasser Arafat’s wife and his daughter’s Irish nanny.

"She also became an outspoken advocate for Palestine in the European Parliament. We talked a lot about what’s going on in Gaza these last few months. Mum remained a news junkie all her life.”

Following her retirement from the European Parliament Ms Banotti spent time in Connemara, buying herself a convertible and a boat despite having no experience on the water.

"Remembering those long summers in the west, her wish is to have her ashes scattered out the backdoor of her home, which I will do,” Tania said.

"I could not be the woman I am without her. She was enormously loving and proud of mine. Much to the amusement of her friends and mine, every birthday she would tell me I was her ‘capolavoro’, her masterwork.

"She was always encouraging me to take risks and make new beginnings, as she did all her life.”

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

OTHER NEWS

9 minutes ago

What Haley donors, voters think about her saying she'll vote for Trump in November

10 minutes ago

New warrants detail charges against singer Sean Kingston and his mother

10 minutes ago

U.S. Secretary of Energy visits North Texas for energy and technology summit

10 minutes ago

USC Basketbal News: Bronny James Divides Scouts at NBA Combine

10 minutes ago

Nicola Coughlan scores first beauty deal with a Meghan Markle-approved skincare brand

10 minutes ago

Housing crisis deepens with more than 47,000 on waiting list

10 minutes ago

Leeds and Southampton seek immediate return to Premier League in soccer's richest one-off game

10 minutes ago

The Next Front in the War Against Climate Change

10 minutes ago

DUP announces Jonathan Buckley as candidate in Lagan Valley

10 minutes ago

Trooping the Colour WILL go ahead next month with King Charles in attendance - despite dozens of royal engagements being scrapped and reviewed due to the general election

10 minutes ago

Nearly 1 million Palestinians are fleeing Rafah and northern Gaza

10 minutes ago

Donald Trump Tries To Halt ‘The Apprentice’ Hitting The Big Screen With Cease & Desist Demand; “Fair & Balanced” Producers Say Of Film

10 minutes ago

A new global pandemic agreement is near. But why can’t countries agree on a plan?

10 minutes ago

3 arrested in Saskatoon drug trafficking investigation

14 minutes ago

Will student-athletes finally be paid by their schools? What a historic settlement means for the NCAA, players

14 minutes ago

A trial of cloud-brightening technology sparks controversy in a California city

14 minutes ago

Young American couple doing missionary work killed by gangs in Haiti

16 minutes ago

Child dies after 'falling from upper-floor flat' in south London: Police launch probe into latest tragedy to hit the capital

17 minutes ago

Vince Vaughn, Al Pacino, and More Stars Spotted Filming in Vegas Hotspot

17 minutes ago

Guests arrive as Biden hosts Kenyan president at state dinner

17 minutes ago

NBER director John Lipsky breaks down economic data, forecasts Fed outlook

17 minutes ago

Hay Festival drops sponsor after celebrities including Charlotte Church withdraw

17 minutes ago

Jimmy Carter Doc ‘The President And The Dragon’ Acquired By Buffalo 8 — Cannes

17 minutes ago

Travis Kelce doesn’t want to ‘judge’ Harrison Butker for ‘homemaker’ speech

17 minutes ago

China's latest AI chatbot is trained on President Xi Jinping's political ideology

17 minutes ago

Essence Festival adds Usher to 2024 talent headliners

17 minutes ago

Zendaya method-dresses in Shakespearean look for Tom Holland’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ show

17 minutes ago

Mom who won lottery denied her prize - as thousands face same struggle

17 minutes ago

Bank Negara Malaysia discusses financing needs for Malaysia and other Islamic countries

17 minutes ago

Digital Realty CEO speaks on data center demand, Microsoft's AI PC

17 minutes ago

Chris Hemsworth honored with star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, roasted by Robert Downey Jr. and celebrated by loved ones

17 minutes ago

George Lucas defends 'Star Wars' films against criticism that they feature 'all white men'

17 minutes ago

Four reasons why Manchester United have decided to sack Erik ten Hag

17 minutes ago

How Low Can Rates Go in the Long Term? The Fed’s Waller Has a View.

17 minutes ago

Google AI makes string of errors after relying on joke websites

17 minutes ago

Joe Biden makes blunder as he says US will help Kenya tackle Haiti crisis

17 minutes ago

Sub-postmasters beam at inquiry as former Post Office boss finally faces their questions

17 minutes ago

US-supplied Himars ‘completely ineffective’ as Russia jams skies with new tech

17 minutes ago

Could Kamala Harris be the key to locking up swing state votes for Biden?

17 minutes ago

Trump on Haley: ‘I’m sure she’s going to be on our team in some form’

Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch