Josephine Bernadette Devlin McAliskey (born April 23, 1947), also known as Bernadette Devlin and Bernadette McAliskey, is a Northern Ireland republican politician. She served as a British member of Parliament from 1969 to 1974, and is a critic of the Good Friday Agreement.
Devlin was studying Psychology at Queen's University Belfast in 1968 when she took a prominent role in a student-led civil rights political party called People's Democracy. She opposed James Chichester-Clark in the Northern Ireland general election of 1969. When the MP for Mid-Ulster died, she fought the by_election and was elected to Parliament at the age of 21. She is the youngest woman ever to be elected to the British parliament. Breaking with tradition she made her highly_praised maiden speech within an hour of taking her seat.
However, her radical left_wing politics, coupled with her anti_clericalism, neither of which had been very obvious prior to her election, proved controversial. She was convicted of incitement to riot in December 1969 and served a short jail term. After being re_elected in the 1970 general election Devlin declared that she would sit in Parliament as an Independent Socialist, though she recognised that many of those who had voted for her would not support such a stance.
Devlin punched Reginald Maudling, the Home Secretary in the Conservative government, when he made a statement to Parliament on Bloody Sunday supporting the army line that it had fired only in self-defence. She married Michael McAliskey on April 23, 1973, by whom she had become pregnant in 1971; her pregnancy out of wedlock had lost her some support. In the February 1974 general election she was opposed by other Nationalist candidates and lost her seat.
McAliskey helped to form the Irish Republican Socialist Party in 1975, which was basically a breakaway from the "Official" IRA, but with some others she left it after a short time when it became clear that it regarded politcal activity as subordinate to its paramilitary wing, the INLA. She attacked the Peace People as dishonest in 1976. She stood as an independent candidate in support of the blanketmen in the Maze prison in the 1979 elections to the European Parliament, and won a respectable 5.9% of the vote. She was a leading spokesperson for the Smash H-Block Campaign, which supported the hunger strikers in 1980 and 1981. On February 16, 1981 she and her husband were shot and seriously wounded by Loyalist paramilitaries who broke into her home.
Her daughter Róisín was arrested (while five months pregnant) in 1996 on an extradition warrant issued by Germany accusing her of involvement in an Irish Republican Army bombing. After a long campaign in which her mother took a leading role, the Home Secretary Jack Straw vetoed the extradition on health grounds.
McAliskey remains an active commentator and activist on the margins of Northern Irish politics, where she has expressed strong opposition to the Belfast Agreement and to Sinn Féin's entry into government in Northern Ireland. In 2003, she was banned from entering the United States by the administration of George W. Bush under anti-terrorist legislation, though McAliskey protested that she had no terrorist involvement. She has sometimes spoken at public meetings organised by Fourthwrite, a journal supported by dissident Republicans, socialists, and ex-prisoners.
- The Price of My Soul (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/crights/devlin69.htm), 1969 (Foreword and Chapter Twelve)
- Devlin is 'very ill' after shooting (http://www.guardian.co.uk/fromthearchive/story/0,12269,1124657,00.html) - 17 Jan 1981 (by David Beresford in Belfast, The Guardian)
- Bernadette Devlin McAliskey Barred Entry to the United States (http://www.counterpunch.org/flanders02222003.html) - 22 Feb 2003, (by Laura Flanders)
- THE BLANKET: Knowing Too Much and Saying It Too Well: Bernadette McAliskey Barred from US (http://lark.phoblacht.net/deportee.html) - 23 Feb 2003, (by Anthony McIntyre)
- Ireland's OWN: Women Freedom Fighters: Bernadette Devlin McAliskey (http://irelandsown.net/bernadette.html), (by DM Gould, Ireland's OWN)